Rayo’s problems, a Bernabéu rout, and Almería off the mark


Rayo Vallecano are in trouble. Following their home defeat to Valladolid, they travelled to Osasuna and suffered another defeat against a team that will be expected to finish in their vicinity come the end of the season. For Osasuna, it was a great evening in which they led from the first minute to the last, although not entirely comfortably collecting the three points as Rayo, as they are want to do, dominated possession in the final 25 minutes after the home side were reduced to ten men.

Osasuna celebrate an important victory over Rayo

What was most telling about this defeat for me is that Rayo don’t have a defence that can keep them in the top tier of Spanish football. For all their bravery in maintaining possession – even better than Barcelona might I add – once they lose it, they can succumb to the offence of whoever they’re facing quite quickly. Gaps are easy to find in the central defensive partnership of Gálvez and whoever is by his side, normally Saúl or Arbilla, and opposition wingers normally get past the fullbacks with relative ease.

But this problem can be dealt with easily enough in theory – all you have to do in football to win is just score more than your opponents. Conceding three per game wouldn’t be too much of a problem if you were scoring four at the same time. But Rayo’s second biggest problem is a lack of cutting edge. The Franjiroja don’t have a player in their ranks who can score them the goal when they need it. They can ping the ball around the box and frustrate opposition teams, and might even put in a nice cross every now and then, but rarely do the Vallekanos have that man at the end of those crosses to rattle the net.

A few years ago Rayo recruited Diego Costa on a loan signing in the January transfer window, from Atletico Madrid. While there’s no chance of a Costa return this time round, with the newly turned Spaniard having bigger fish to fry at the summit of the league, Rayo will still need to use some of their transfer market cleverness if they’re to stay a Primera División club for next season.

Sergio Asenjo (r) dejected after his howler handed Getafe their first

South of Madrid, Getafe read my last article and decided to stick two stiff fingers my direction, by travelling to Villarreal and beating them 2-0. Sergio Asenjo handed el Geta a Hallowe’en treat with no tricks in sight, as the goalkeeper lost his footing with the ball at his feet and allowed Ciprian to knock in his first for his new club into an open net.

Villarreal’s response was strong. An onslaught on the visitors goal left Getafe on the ropes, but after a beautiful through ball on the yellow submarine’s defence with just over five minutes to play in the half, Iñiguez swiped at Ciprian and took the Romanian down and was duly sent off as he was the last man.

Giovani dos Santos and Cani still led the attacks for the ten-man home side in the second half, but couldn’t ever hit the back of the net. An injury time goal from Sarabia wrapped up the points that brings Getafe just a point off the Champions League spots, following Athletic’s home draw with Elche.

Despite losing and being a man down for most of the game, Villarreal still looked a really good side, but just had an off night. Had their strikers been on form, perhaps they could have been celebrating a huge victory coming from behind with ten men, given the amount of opportunities they had.

¡Locura in the Bernabéu! Ten goals, three penalties, one red card – Real Madrid – Sevilla had it all. The home side were expected to run out as easy winners against a struggling Andalucían team that hasn’t won away from home in the league since September 2012, and that was against a side that got relegated that year (Deportivo La Coruña.) Practically every chance that was created was converted, including two from Gareth Bale, although his first came from a massive deflection from the wall of the free kick. 7-3 was the full time result.

Joyous scenes from the Almería squad after their first win of the season

Perhaps the league’s most unlucky side, Almería, have grabbed their first win of the campaign. Francisco Rodríguez’s men added to Valencia‘s worries with a comeback 2-1 win that must surely now test Amadeo Salvo’s vows of keeping Miroslav Djukic in his job. Valencia endured a tough start to the season, finding results hard to come by, but then went on a purple patch picking up three wins in a row, but they now haven’t won since beating Rayo Vallecano at the end of September.

For Almería, the victory ends a five-match losing streak and they’ll be hoping that this win can kickstart their season. They’re a good team in truth, one that plays a nice style of football, but have been let down by their inability to kill teams off, dropping plenty of points at home and on the road in the last five minutes of matches.

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