Match Preview: Rayo Vallecano v Real Madrid

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Denis Doyle/FC Barcelona via Getty Images

Match Preview: Rayo Vallecano v Real Madrid

La Liga, Vallecas, 8/4/2015

Three down, 27 to go. ‘Operation 30 Points’, as it’s been named by the Spanish press, is in full motion after Madrid demolished poor Granada 9-1 at the Bernabeu on Sunday. Madrid still sit four points behind leaders Barcelona but the victory was a show of intent, a sign that the league is not over just yet.

Rayo Vallecano are next up on the agenda and Madrid have enjoyed recent matches against their capital rivals. Los Blancos have won all ten of their last outings against Rayo and won the reverse fixture 5-1 at the Bernabeu earlier in the season.

Paco Jemez’s men are in perhaps their best form of the season, however, with four wins from their last five matches that have left them ninth in the table and safe from relegation from another year. They will not change their approach for the visit of Carlo Ancelotti’s side.

Barcelona played just hours before Madrid kick-off at Vallecas but the target for Madrid is simple: three more points in the bag to keep the pressure on the Catalans.

Real Madrid team news

Gareth Bale is a doubt for the short trip across town with a foot injury. The Welshman suffered a knock in the emphatic weekend win and he will be tested today before Ancelotti names his final starting line-up.

The Italian has already said he won’t risk his players if they are not 100 per cent, however, so any doubts surrounding Bale should see both Isco and James Rodriguez start together. The Colombian will mov further forward to replace Bale in an attacking trio while Isco will plug the gap left by James in the middle after the Spaniard served his one-match suspension.

Pepe is still out with injury and Raphael Varane will continued alongside Sergio Ramos at the heart of the Madrid defence. Dani Carvajal is expected to come back in for the suspended Alvaro Arbeloa at right-back.

Rayo Vallecano team news

Antonio Amaya and Robert Trashorras are available again after serving a suspension and both are expected to come back into Paco Jemez’s starting line-up. Trashorras, in particular, will be crucial to Rayo’s passing game and the former Barcelona man always wants to do well against Madrid.

Manucho is expected to retain his place leading the Rayo line with former Madrid man Alberto Bueno tucked in just behind him. Bueno has been a star for Rayo this season with 16 Liga goals to his name – more than any other Spaniard in the league. His form has attracted the attention of teams around Europe.

Leo Baptistao is sidelined through injury and Raul Baena is also a doubt for the hosts.

Carlo Ancelotti says…

“Rayo are enjoying their best spell of the season at the moment and the league standings clearly reflect that. They have won their last four games at home. I always prefer playing against sides that close things up at the back because it means you can control the play. They will be looking to control the play and the tempo of the game tomorrow. Rayo like to have possession of the ball and we understand the difficulty this match poses.”

Paco Jemez says…

“We won’t worry about the result. Nobody likes losing but that’s the furthest from my mind right now. We confront these kinds of matches as a bonus. We won’t be changing anything because our situation is more relaxed now. It’s a bonus for us because for another year, Real Madrid are visiting our stadium and it should be a party for all of our fans to celebrate.”

Predicted Madrid XI: Casillas; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Kroos, Modric, Isco; James, Benzema, Ronaldo.

Statistics

– Madrid have had a good time against Rayo in matches – they have won all ten of their last meetings and have won every match since Rayo returned to the top flight.

– Rayo are in good form, however, having won their last four matches on home soil and four of their last five home and away.

– Madrid also travel to Vallecas with the rare statistic of having lost their last two away matches in La Liga. They fell to a 2-1 defeat at Barcelona last time out and suffered a 1-0 loss at Athletic Bilbao before that.

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