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Rayo concerned about "fair play" as Villarreal visit Sporting

As we found to our cost in May 2012, you never want to wait until the last match of the season to ensure Primera safety. Too many strange things happen...and Rayo is worried Villarreal might not try that hard in Gijón.

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

One is tempted to say revenge is sweet, or at least ask 'why weren't you concerned about fair play in 2012'--not that two wrongs make a right.   Rayo manager Paco Jemez is concerned--concerned that Villarreal might not try that hard to beat a Sporting Gijón side that needs to win to stay up.

Briefly, the situation is that Rayo, on 35 points, host Levante, already relegated.  Sporting Gijon, on 36 points,  host Villarreal, who have nothing to play for; Real Betis, who have nothing to play for either, host Getafe.

Villarreal aren't exactly practicing like crazy for this fixture--Marcelino gave his players three days off before they returned to training today--but the real kicker is that Marcelino and his assistant Rubén Uria both have ties to Sporting, and Marcelino said last week he hopes Sporting can stay up.  So, Rayo is on the lookout for any funny business.

What sort of funny business?  Well, cast your mind back to May 2012.  Villarreal, even with a loss to Atleti in the last match of the season, would stay up if Granada and Rayo drew (Rayo would go down).  It was 0-0 late on, but after Falcao put Villarreal ahead, the news came through to the Rayo bench.  Rayo players convinced Granada players it was so, and the next thing you knew, Rayo had scored the all-important winning goal--albeit with Granada players not exactly trying very hard to stop them, and from an offside position.  Still, it counted, and Villarreal were down.

Do not forget, too, that there was another team that day that could have gone down instead--Real Zaragoza.  However, they won away at Getafe, 2-0, in a match where referee José Teixera sent off two Getafe players and awarded a penalty to Zaragoza inside the first hour.  Nothing strange there, no sirree.

If you want to see all this, there's a youtube video of it here (warning, Lotina is interviewed at the end):

Let's hope the Rayo, Getafe and Sporting matches are all played without controversy and with both teams attempting to win.  But somehow, I won't be surprised if some interesting things happen.  League President Javier Tebas has said he was going to crack down on this sort of stuff, but he never has.

Do I think Villarreal will play fairly?  Yes, within limits.  I don't think we'll field our best XI, I don't think we're going to be unduly concerned given we are guaranteed to finish fourth.  It is the last game of a long season.   But if it comes down to the final minute with Sporting needing a goal to progress, I don't think you'll see us pass the ball back to them the way Granada did against Rayo.