Last 5 matches: @Cartagena 0-0; Albacete 2-2; @Recre 2-1; Hercules 1-0; @Cordoba 3-1.
Keep the tough matches coming. The A team is off for the international break (mercifully?), but the show goes on in Villarreal. Let's see if this match brings a big turnout to the Ciudad Deportiva, and not for Bruno-Cani round 2.
Rayo Vallecano are the traditional third team of Madrid (behind Real and Atletico), but in recent times they have been surpassed by Getafe. Rayo won mid-week in the Copa del Rey against Cordoba and sit 5th in the Segunda table on 11 points from 6 matches. Midfielder Jose Movilla (Zaragoza) and defender Jose Serrano (Levante) are key former Primera performers, and goalkeeper David Cobeno leads a backline that conceded only 38 goals last season in 42 matches, earning Cobeno the Zamora trophy in Segunda.
Oddly enough, our team's only victory of the season came against current Segunda leaders Hercules. So last year's 5th-place finishers Rayo will pose a stiff, but not impossible, test. Of course, if Rayo also goes a man down, that will help matters.
Here is the squad for today's match. My projected starting XI in red:
GKs: Juan Carlos and Vicente Flor.
DFs: Mario, Costa, Edu, Carlos Tomás, Kiko, and Ángel Ortega.
MFs: Marcos Gullón, Matilla, Natxo Insa, Hernán Pérez, Cristóbal, and Fofo.
Fs: Joan Tomás, Robert Flores, Cubillas, and Marco Ruben.
A number of players are out through injury: defenders Mateo Musacchio (long-term), Catala, and Joan Oriol, and midfielder Gerard Bordas. And midfielder Jefferson Montero is with the Ecuadorian national team as it looks to hold on to the final automatic spot in South American World Cup qualifying (ahead of the train wreck that is Maradona's Argentina). That's 5 starters missing for a key match.
On the other hand, the team will recover Paraguayan Hernan Perez and Spaniard Marcos Gullon from the U-20 World Cup, as both of their sides lost in the round of 16. And Cristobal is back from his red card suspension earned against Albacete; all 3 players should start. Forwards Fofo and Cubillas, along with defender Angel Ortega, have been called up from the C team to form the 18-man squad.
The game will begin at 2 pm Eastern time. I'm hoping for streams, but it may be tough considering the worldwide international schedule. Please treat this as the match thread as well. Endavant!
Pregame: Sounds like I got most (or all) of the starters right, per the radio feed. Hernan Perez gets the start in midfield, along with Costa and Carlos Tomas on the backline.
32', 0-1 Rayo: Controversial penalty converted by Rayo's Ruben Castro. I believe the foul was committed by defender Costa. Another home match, another deficit to overcome. It's tough to take 3 points when you're behind in every match.
39', 0-2 Rayo: A double from Ruben Castro puts Rayo comfortably ahead against our undermanned squad. Not sure we have another comeback in us, but it would be great to fight back for a point. Marco Ruben, we need you.
Halftime, 0-2 Rayo: 2 goals late in the first half will make it difficult to maintain our unbeaten home record. But an early goal in the second half will change that outlook. I'll be back after the game with a recap.
Fulltime, 0-2 Rayo: I missed the second half, but defender Angel Ortega made his debut for Villarreal B in place of Costa. Joan Tomas and Fofo also saw action, replacing Robert Flores and Cristobal, respectively. We couldn't find a way back into the match and now find ourselves in the drop zone in 21st place. So now, after weeks of suffering provided by the A team, the B team is in penultimate position as well. Just peachy. And for what it's worth, Rayo are the overnight leaders in the category (pending Sunday's games).
Game story here. See you next Saturday for a six-pointer against fellow newly promoted side Real Union de Irun.