They may not be the most fashionable club in Spain's capital, but Rayo Vallecano is causing an almighty stir in LaLiga this season in their first campaign back in the top-flight.
🤨 How did we get here?
Rayo Vallecano finished the 2020-21 Segunda Division season in sixth place, thereby narrowly qualifying for the playoffs to determine which one of four sides would join Espanyol and Mallorca in LaLiga for the 2021-22 campaign. There, Rayo beat Girona in the play-off final, winning promotion to Spain’s top-flight where they now sit 7th after 20 rounds of matches.
Under 39-year-old boss Andoni Iraola, Vallecano is vastly overachieving as we move into the second half of the season.
🏰 Fortress Estádio de Vallecas
At home, Rayo's results this season read WWWWWDWWWD, meaning that they’ve collected 26 points out of a possible 30 at Estádio de Vallecas. A highlight of that run was beating Barcelona in October thanks to a Radamel Falcao goal to nil. The only sides to take any points off them all campaign at the Vallecas are Celta Vigo in a 0-0 draw on November 1st, and Real Betis last time out in a 1-1 stalemate.
Their form away from home is far less impressive, however, and an improvement on that front will be vital if they are to sustain a realistic yet miraculous tilt at European qualification.
🌎 South American star quality
Argentinian playmaker Óscar Trejo has notched nine LaLiga assists this term, making him one of the leading creators in Europe's top five leagues. In fact, only Bayern Munich's Thomas Müller (14) has more. Trejo has also weighed in with three top-flight strikes of his own this season.
And then there's Colombian veteran Falcao, a man that needs no introduction whatsoever. The ex-Atlético Madrid striker has five goals from 12 appearances this term, of which just five were starts. The 35-year-old will never forget where the goal is, and his vast experience will be key for Rayo's continued progress at the elite level.
📈 What's next?
Rayo sits just two points adrift of defending champions Atlético Madrid, who currently occupy the fourth and final Champions League qualification place. The club's focus will shift to a Copa del Rey tie against Girona, the side they vanquished to claim their place at Spain's top table.
A genuine fairytale story is unfolding right before our eyes in Spain’s capital city. Who knows? Maybe little Rayo Vallecano will throw their name into the hat for European football next season.