Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid

September 24, 2011
1800 hours GMT


It is a situation, which no one would have foreseen, at the beginning of the season. Real Madrid are struggling and struggling badly. Having scored just one goal in their last three games, warning bells have started to ring at the Casa Blanca. It is understandable that a few points will be dropped here and there, but the aftermath of the match was the one that really was a cause of concern.

Mourinho publicly criticized Khedira and there was a distinctive lack of support from the rest of the senior players. Including Ronaldo. It seems that the dressing room is getting tired of Mourinho’s endless tirades and wants to play the game of football rather than the mind games.

On the other side are Rayo Vallecano, who have ended an eight-year hiatus from the top flight football. Some of the other fans may forget that Rayo too are one of Castillan clubs. They are based in the Madrid neighbourhood of Vallecas and are one of Real’s men’s local rivals. Notably, Alvaro Negredo belongs to this place. Currently they are in 11th position and in a way, this is a clash of two mid-table clubs.

Team News and Tactical Brief


Mourinho is not a great fan of rotation and the last match demonstrated the reason. Real were lacklustre, bereft of any ideas and could barely muster a meaningful shot at the opposition’s goal. The starting eleven was good enough to see off the threat of Racing, but they failed to do so. When players like Ronaldo, Benzema, Higuain, Kaka and Ozil together cannot score one goal, there is not much that can be said about the referee or any tactics of opposition. Mourinho really needs to stop making excuses and start developing siege mentality on solidarity and excuses.

In a team, which has played together for a year, with the sort of quality that Real posses, even 9 men should have been more  than enough to see Racing.

That said, coming to the team news and tactical line up, most of the players seem to select themselves due to a host of injuries to several players.

It is possible that Ramos might be on the right to make an attacking outlet and Albiol and Varane will start in the centre. However, both these players don’t have the capability to marshal the backline on their own. Hence, Ramos definitely starts in centre. Depending on Mourinho’s preference, Albiol or Varane will start in the middle. However, given Varane’s superb display against Racing, he deserves to start.

Khedira came in for a bit of shelling by Mou, but still he remains the lynchpin along with Alonso. It is unlikely that he will be rested for this match.

The preferred frontline will be there for Rayo to face.

Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Casillas; Arbeloa, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Alonso, Khedira; Di Maria, Ronaldo, Özil; Benzema

football formations


Rayo have an extremely stingy defence, having conceded only 3 goals in 4 matches. Although they have scored just 3 goals in the same number of matches. This suggests that they are a side who tend to play with ten men behind the ball and sit back and defend and hit on the counter. Last season too, the lesser teams had used these tactics to great effect against Madrid and will love to go away with some points. Trashorras is one of their main threats.

The capital side will be without on-loan Arsenal winger Pedro Botelho, who was sent-off in their 2-1 defeat to Levante. Dani Pacheco, another loan signing is expected to stand-in for the suspended winger.

Their defence has no reason to worry as of now and it has a settled look. They will  look to play in a formation similar to the one employed by Real in order to negate their tactics.

Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Gimenez; Tito, Labaka, Figueras, Raul Bravo; Fuego, Movilla; Trashorras, Pacheco, Michu; Piti

Key Facts 

  1. It is the first time that Mourinho has dropped points in consecutive league games for Madrid.
  2. Barcelona are just 1 point ahead Madrid. Although Real should thank their lucky stars for that, given the fact that could have very well been 5.


Ronaldo (Real Madrid)

For a player who thrives on goals, the supply has suddenly dried down. This would have surely fired up the Portuguese winger and he would want to dispel all doubts regarding his state of mind. Most of the betting sites have a hat-trick for him at a fairly competitive price of 8/1. This shows that he is widely expected to put behind his lackluster shows and silence his critics once again.

TheHardTackle’s PREDICTION

Real Madrid 2- 0 Rayo Vallecano

The talks of Real putting up a show seem to be a bit far-fetched. Lest anyone may forget this too is a derby match and they always tend to be keenly contested affairs. A narrow victory with plenty of dogged defending and occasional chances seem to be on the cards.

Real will look to win this to prevent the talks of a full blown crisis and Rayo will want to pick up some points against their illustrious neighbours.