They may not be the hottest club in the Spanish capital, but Rayo Vallecano are causing a sensation in La Liga this season in their first campaign back in the top flight.
How did Vallecano get here?
Rayo Vallecano finished the Segunda division’s 2020-21 season in sixth place, narrowly qualifying for the playoffs to determine which of the four teams would join Espanyol and Mallorca in La Liga for the 2021-22 campaign. There, Rayo beat Girona in the play-off final, winning a promotion to the Spanish top flight where they now sit in 7th place after 20 rounds of matches.
Under 39-year-old boss Andoni Iraola, Vallecano is vastly outperforming as we move into the second half of the season.
🏰 Estádio de Vallecas Fortress
At home, Rayo’s results this season are WWWWWDWWWD, which means they have collected 26 out of 30 possible points at Estádio de Vallecas. A highlight of this race was beating Barcelona in October thanks to a goal from Radamel Falcao to zero. The only teams to have taken points in all of Vallecas’ campaigns are Celta Vigo in a 0-0 draw on November 1 and Real Betis last night in a 1-1 stalemate.
Their away form is much less impressive, however, and an improvement on that front will be vital if they are to maintain a realistic but miraculous tilt in European qualifying.
🌎 South American star quality
Argentina playmaker Óscar Trejo has notched nine La Liga assists this season, making him one of the main creators of Europe’s top five leagues this season. In fact, only Thomas Müller (14) from Bayern Munich has more. Trejo has also weighed in with three top strikes this season.
And then there is the Colombian veteran Falcao, a man who is no longer presented at all. The former Atleti striker has scored five goals in 12 appearances this season, including five starts. The 35-year-old will never forget where the goal is, and his vast experience will be key to Rayo’s continued progression to the elite level.
And after ?
Rayo is just two points behind reigning champions Atletico Madrid, who currently sit in fourth and final Champions League qualifying spot. The club’s goal will shift to a Copa del Rey draw against Girona, the team they defeated to claim their spot at the top of Spain.
A true fairy tale story unfolds before our eyes in the Spanish capital. Who knows? Maybe little Rayo Vallecano will throw his name in the hat of European football next season.