Match Recap: Real Madrid v Rayo Vallecano

11 Apr

Starters shake hands

Midweek matches feel so weird to me. Not Champions League matches, but Liga ones do. I don’t know what it is. It feels unnatural. Either way, we traveled to Vallecas in the southeast of Madrid on Wednesday to take on Rayo Vallecano.

I like it when our boys are smiley. It makes me feel a bit better about where they’ll be mentally. And when they enjoy themselves, they play better. We all do, no?

Lineups:

Rayo Vallecano: Cristian Alvarez; Tito, Antonio Amaya, Ze Castro, Nacho; Mohammed Fatau, Roberto Trashorras; Adri Embarba, Gael Kakuta, Alberto Bueno; Manucho

Real Madrid: Iker Casillas; Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo; Luka Modric, James Rodriguez, Toni Kroos; Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale

Real Madrid starters

The stadium in Vallecas is really interesting. The tunnel is down at the end of the pitch instead of between the benches. It’s a tiny little stadium and makes for an incredible atmosphere.

AND….

It’s the return of pre-match besos!!!!

We started a bit on the back foot. Rayo had their first two chances in the first 4 minutes of the match, including a free kick in a very dangerous position.

In the 8th minute, James played a great cross into Cris but his volley was just wide.

We had another chance in the 11th minute from James, but it came in the middle of a lot of pressure from Rayo Vallecano.

In the 20th minute, James found himself with a yellow card for a handball. The card meant he’d be suspended from Saturday’s match against Eibar due to accumulation.

Then, in the 20th minute, Gareth found himself with a shot on goal and had it in the back of the net. Unfortunately, sometime in the past few years, our forwards have forgotten how to be ONSIDE.

Iker had to make another saintly save in the 33rd (yeah, I just said that). Then, just 2 minutes later, Kakuto made a bad back pass that nearly had us in on goal.

In the 40th minute, Tito received a yellow card for tugging on Cris. Our Portuguese machine put a great free kick in, but James’ header was over the bar.

Iker made a gorgeous save (even if it was directly at him) on a Trashorras header in the 44th minute to keep us from conceding.

And shortly after, in the 44th minute, Nacho (not Stalker!) was booked when he held up Modric.

The first half came to an end without goals for either side. My heart was pounding because we didn’t look like the same team that had thumped Granada just 3 days earlier.

 Second Half:

The second half started much the same as it ended. Not only had neither team made any changes, but Rayo was applying the majority of the pressure.

The 51st minute… Oh the 51st minute…

Cris broke into the box and was brought down in the box by Amaya. It was a clear penalty that not only wasn’t given but, instead, the ref booked our golden boy for diving. ARE. YOU. KIDDING. ME?!

There isn’t a person in the world that thinks that’s a dive. Cris’ reaction was just short of indignation. Kroos and Bale’s reactions were worthy of earning them yellow cards as well.

I won’t lie, Toni’s little hissy fit had me laughing. You know I love the Toni sass. Unfortunately, the sass meant he also earned suspension from Saturday’s game against Eibar.

Hey! It’s a yellow card party!

Dani got his booking in the 54th minute for chopping Nacho down.

In the 55th minute, Marcelo had a hell of a shot on goal but it was just wide. Gareth got in on it a minute later when his shot just missed as well.

Rayo made their first sub in the 57th minute with Jozabed replacing Fatau.

In the 61st minute, Rayo added to their yellow card tally (which paled in comparison to ours) when Cobeno was booked for time wasting. And Amaya was booked in the 63rd for a bad tackle on Gareth.

In the 68th minute, after we’d been applying more pressure for a while now, Cristiano got on the end of a great Carvajal cross to head it into the back of the net. It was great work by Dani. I love his crosses.

Rayo’s second change came in the 70th minute as Bueno was replaced by Miku.

Iker made another brilliant save in the 72nd minute when Nacho had a smoking shot on goal. Ah, we do love San Iker!

Ancelotti made our first sub in the 72nd minute, taking Benzema out to give Isco some time.

Then, in the 73rd minute, James cut inside and shot into the bottom corner to give us our second goal.

James’ smile is so adorable. He’s adorable.

Rayo’s next, and final, substitution was in the 81st minute. Aquino replaced Embarba.

Gareth started a great chance to get us a third goal in the 83rd minute by cutting around Cobeno and playing the ball to Isco. But the keeper came out very well to deny our little bowlegged cutie.

SAN IKER AGAIN!

The 87th minute had yet another brilliant save from the keeper of our goal (I really wanted to say something silly here and it seems I’m fresh out of ideas). He was absolutely fabulous for us in this match.

The 90th minute had Ancelotti bringing in Nacho for James. In the first minute of added time, we also got some Chicharito action and Gareth got a bit of a rest (if you can call it that).

After four minutes of added time, that was it. We got the win we needed to stay within striking distance of Barcelona for La Liga.

Match Photos:

Post-Match Comments:

Ancelotti post match

Ancelotti:

“I leave here very happy and satisfied because our attitude was good, we played well and we were physically strong”.

Carlo Ancelotti assessed Real Madrid’s victory over Rayo in the press room of the Vallecas stadium: “We rushed things too much in the first half. I told the players they had to apply pressure with more intensity up front in the second half and in the end we played a very complete game and deserved our win. It was more a case of us increasing our intensity levels than Rayo’s dropping off. We were a lot more at ease in the second half”.

“I leave here very happy and am hugely satisfied with the second half performance because our attitude was good, we played well and we were physically strong. That’s all I’m looking for”.

James starting
“Every game is different and different starting line-ups are required. He made a good contribution against Granada, in his first match back after his injury, so I decided to go with him. But every game is different”.It was an intense game, especially in the second half.

“I leave here very happy and satisfied because our attitude was good, we played well and we were physically strong”. “We didn’t have any injury problems. A few of the players were tired towards the end because it was such a physical match”.

Bale’s fitness
“Bale underwent tests this morning. Everything went to plan, he has recovered from the knock and played without incurring any further problems. I took Karim off in order to have four midfielders on the pitch so we could defend more easily”.

Praise
“Rayo play a very attractive and courageous brand of football. Their manager is doing a great job”.

Comparing Rayo and Atlético
“They are two different teams. Rayo build their play up from the back so we pressured them high up the pitch. That plan worked very well in the second half. Atlético don’t play the ball from the back, they play a lot of long balls so we will have to use different tactics against them”.

What he said to the referee
“I told him I thought it was incredible that he didn’t call a penalty”.

James post match

James:

James scored Real Madrid’s second goal in the win over Rayo Vallecano, and gave his thoughts on the clash: “We’ve put in two good games and we have to keep it up. To win you also have to come though difficult moments, but we got the victory and that’s the most important thing. I’m happy, because we won and we picked up all three points at a pretty difficult ground to go to”.

“In the first half, they played with a lot of intensity. We knew that they would be a little tired later on and that they wouldn’t press to the same degree, and that was the case”.

Competition in the squad
“When there are good players we all have to be focused and on our mettle, it’s the coach who’s in charge. We have good players like Modric, Kroos and then Isco came on today and helped us a lot in the midfield. It was a stonewall penalty on Cristiano, but thankfully it didn’t have much of an influence”.

Varane:

“We put in a good second-half performance”
“The first half was difficult, they stopped us from bringing the ball out. In the second half, we pressed higher up and we got in amongst them more. We produced good play in attack and we were more clinical”.

“What was important was the three points and we put in a good second-half performance. At the break, Ancelotti asked us to press with more intensity because they were bringing the ball out well at the beginning”.

The race for the title
“There are eight important games to go and we have to be ready, we need the whole team. Every matchday can be decisive and really important. We can’t drop points and we have to win every game if we want to win La Liga. It’s important that we keep thinking we can win it”.

His situation in the team
“I’m focused on our season and I’m going to give everything to help the team. I’m happy at Real Madrid”.

Casillas post match

Casillas:

Real Madrid picked up three important points in Vallecas, in a match Casillas summed up as follows: “I’m happy, winning is always important and it’s made all the better by keeping a clean sheet. It was a difficult game on a small pitch and we were solid at the back. We struggled in the first half but in the second half we were more tuned in and better organised and were able to react in time to win the game”.

“Paco’s game plan is always spot on, he treats each opponent equally and that’s what makes him stand out from the rest. They know this pitch inside out and they deserve praise for how they played. We didn’t have as many iffy moments in the second half and were stronger and more solid. If you drop any points at this stage of the season, you might as well wave goodbye to La Liga”.

“The manager always makes his decisions for the good of the team and we players have to accept that. What matters is that we continue to pick up points regardless of who is playing. There’s no need to make a big deal of this issue. The fans have to support the team and the players so we can win all our games”.

Carvajal:

“Ancelotti told us to apply pressure up front”
“It was a tough game, we knew it would be a difficult pitch to play on. We didn’t have many chances but we were able to put the few we had away and we leave here very happy. During the break, Ancelotti told us to apply more pressure up top, that’s what we did in the second half and we scored two goals. There are eight games to go and we’ll be looking to clinch all 24 points to be in with a chance of winning the championship”.

Penalty not called
“That’s the decision the referee made but in the end we still won. I didn’t get to see it, I was just delighted with the goal and didn’t see what happened. The referees are impartial and try to do their best”.

Casillas’s performance
“He made some important saves. He deserves praise because he played a great match. This is my home and I am going to give my everything for this crest”.

Danilo
“I’d like to congratulate him on signing for the best club in the world and also welcome him. He’ll be here next year training with us”.

Social Media Corner:

Nothing too exciting on social media following this one. Just a celebration post by Iker. He’s on social media and what more can we truly ask for?

I had a rough week, which is why this post is coming now instead of before the match against Eibar. Cap (my superhero roommate) and I have a lot going on because when it rains it pours. I’ll have the Eibar post to you soon.

¡Hala Madrid!

-mygypsyspirit

(images and gifs courtesy of GF Sports, the-vip-football-collection, football-hqs, and realmadrid.com)

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