Previewing Rayo Vallecano vs Athletic Club
Athletic have had a poor start to the season but there is one thing working in their favor at the moment. They have a game in hand. The third match of the season was originally set to see the Lions travel to Vallecas to take on Rayo Vallecano but was postponed due to stadium concerns. That fixture will now be played on Wednesday and will give the Basques the chance to jump into 12th place in the La Liga table if they can secure a victory in Madrid.
History says this is a match that Athletic should win. Rayo Vallecano haven’t beaten the Lions since September of 2014 with that game taking place at Vallecas. Their previous victory also happen in Madrid way back in October of 2009. In fact, the last three meetings between these sides have all been won by Athletic who did not even concede a goal during that span.
Rayo come into Wednesday’s game in disastrous form. They have only managed to pick up two points over their last five games and currently find themselves tied at the bottom of the table with five points. Los Vallecanos have a -9 goal difference at the moment, but have been able to score five goals over the their last four matches. Their defense has been the biggest issue this season and they will be hoping to fix that against their Basque visitors.
Athletic’s season has not gone much better. The Lions haven’t won a game since the opening day of the season and have only picked up four points from their last six matches. They are coming off of a paltry performance against Eibar and need a good game against Rayo to ty to get their season back on track. A win in Madrid would see Athletic jump several spots in the league table, but a loss could see the team forced to make some difficult decisions.
Raúl de Tomás has been Rayo’s best player this season, scoring three of the team’s eight goals. They have also gotten good production from defensive midfielder Santiago Comesaña who could play a big role in Wednesday’s match. Rayo will be without midfielder Óscar Trejo who was shown a red card in the weekend game against Getafe. They have had a player sent off in their last two games.
Eduardo Berizzo will have to rotate the team after a demanding match against Eibar three days prior and with a home game against Valencia looming on Saturday. That being said, the manager will still have a relatively healthy squad to choose from. Iñigo Lekue is will miss Wednesday’s clash as he is still recovering from his fractured ankle and Beñat has already been ruled out due to sickness. Everyone else will be able to play. In his pregame press conference Berizzo said that Aritz Aduriz and Iago Herrerín will stay in the starting lineup, while also alluding to the fact that Iker Muniain and Unai López could be the midfield pairing for a second consecutive game.
The match at Vallecas is already a must win for Athletic. Three points would go a long way to helping the team climb back into the top half of the table, but a loss would be absolutely inexcusable at this point. Rayo have shown a weakness for defending balls in the air and attacks down the wing, which just so happen to be strengths for Athletic. If the Lions can use their pressure properly they could leave Madrid with a much better taste in their mouths and the fans will accept nothing short of a solid performance on Wednesday.
Projected Athletic Club XI: Iago Herrerín, Ander Capa, Yeray, Iñigo Martinez, Yuri Berchiche, Dani García, Unai López, Iker Muniain, Iñaki Williams, Aritz Aduriz, Markel Susaeta