After our demoralizing defeat to Barca, we look to continue to press for 4th place. Midfield will be weakened by Bruno's absence, of course. It was obvious that his injury was a major factor in our downfall against them but pundits gave far too credit to the Catalans.
Rayo Vallecano have lost three league matches in a row, and since we returned to the Primera we've beaten them three times, including a healthy 5-2 win at this ground last season. We are on fire in the league; after last week's match we are now a point behind fifth place. Unfortunately Sevilla and Valencia both won their home matches yesterday, but we can open up a nine-point gap over Malaga with a win today.
Paco Jémez's team started out the season leaking goals, but their defense has been better of late--they lost to Sevilla at home 1-0 and Valencia at home 2-1, for instance. Yet, those results illustrate their other problem--scoring goals. They've scored only 22, Baptistao and Bueno have 14 of those, but only one in 2015. They're a bit above the drop zone, but have home matches coming up against most of the teams around and below them. Those will be the key to their survival.
Keepers: Asenjo and Juan Carlos.
Defenders: Mario, Rukavina, Jaume Costa, Víctor Ruiz, Dorado, Musacchio and Eric Bailly.
Midfielders: Pina, Trigueros, Campbell, Cheryshev, Moi Gómez and Sergio Marcos (wearing number 26).
Strikers: Vietto, Gerard and Giovani.
Bruno is not our only injured warrior. J Dos Santos is out with a strained muscle, Uche is out, and Jokic and Marin are long-term absences. Mario seems to have recovered from his knee contusion suffered late in the Copa match.
It will be an interesting squad selection. More likely it will be a experimental squad to some degree, with Campbell and Moi likely to start. Manu and Pina are likely to start in midfield as well. Vietto and Gerard up front, perhaps? And will we see the debut of Eric Bailly in the back?
Rayo are the stronger side fitness wise, with no injury concerns. They are without midfielder Raul Baena after he managed to get suspended after being sent off in the 2-0 defeat at Elche on Monday.
Predictions: My predictions have been lucky so far so I am going to say a safe 2-0