16 February 2019
The relegation battlers and the Champions League promotion contenders go head-to-head at the Campo de Futbol de Vallecas as Rayo Vallecano tackle an out-of-balance Atletico Madrid team.
Still trying to find the way out of the relegation zone, the hosts go into this meeting off the back of back-to-back La Liga defeats that both ended with the identical 2-1 scoreline against their favor. In order to preserve the top-flight status for another season, Los Franjirrojos have to improve the frustratingly poor defensive outputs that have seen them concede 40 goals in the opening 23 La Liga fixtures – more than any other side in the Spanish top tier. Rayo’s defensive flaws have seen them allow over 1.5 goals per match 14 times, while keeping a clean sheet just four times thus far. Los Vallecanos’ recent drop-off in form certainly worries Michel considering his men have gone from three successive LL home wins to two games without a victory (D1, L1). The only thing that can console the Spanish tactician is that his team has no problems finding the net at home, having bagged at least one goal in 11 of 12 LL home outings this term.
The visitors’ chances of fighting Barcelona for La Liga title have been drastically diminished after two successive league defeats, including the one to city rivals Real Madrid last weekend. Los Colchoneros have not only conceded second place to Los Blancos, but they now trail the Blaugrana by seven points. Diego Simeone’s men are still uncomfortable away from home having secured just three wins on 11 LL road trips this term (W3, D6, L2). Five of Atletico’s six road stalemates have ended with the same 1-1 scoreline, while the Madrid giants failed to score in both of their away losses so far. Meanwhile, Atletico have scored 2+ match goals in all of three LL road victories, breaking the deadlock inside the first half in each.
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