Almost 24 hours later than scheduled, Rayo Vallecano will finally take on their city neighbors Real Madrid at Vallecas.
The match was called off in bizarre fashion on Sunday evening after cables were cut, leaving the stadium in darkness, with Ray president Martin Presa calling it a deliberate act and a “new kind of terrorism.” Real Madrid lobbied to get the game rescheduled during the daylight hours, but once again soccer fans will be left praying that the lights come on with the match set to kick off at 7.45 p.m. local time.
Providing the contest gets underway as planned then it promises to be an intriguing evening in the Vallecas neighborhood of Madrid.
Rayo go into the game in the unfamiliar position of being three points better off than their illustrious rivals in the early stages of La Liga. Real have made a desperately disappointing start to the defense of their title—falling to two defeats in just four games. With great rivals Barcelona already 11 points clear, dropping more points on Monday is not an option worth considering.
While performances on the pitch have been a long way short of expectations, there has also been plenty of speculation about the harmony within the dressing room. First there was Cristiano Ronaldo revealing that he was “sad” and then the surprising move by coach Jose Mourinho to leave Sergio Ramos on the bench last time out against Manchester City.
Real’s poor run looked like it would continue in that opening Champions League contest before two late goals rescued a potentially significant victory. Mourinho will hope that it is a turning point.
Their next opponents, Rayo, have made a strong start to the season, only falling to their first defeat in their last match against Atletico Madrid. Even then there was encouragement in a recovery from 4-0 down to finish at 4-3.
Rayo’s recent record against Real is not inspiring, though, with Los Meringues coming out on top in their last five visits to Vallecas.
Rayo coach Paco Jemez will at least have a full-strength squad to choose from with the return from suspension of goalkeeper Ruben.
The selection decisions are far more intriguing for Jemez’s opposite number. The most highly scrutinized choice will be whether Mourinho elects to bring Ramos back into the lineup in place of Raphael Varane. There is also plenty of debate about who will lineup in Real’s midfield with Luka Modric and Mesut Ozil making a positive impact against Manchester City after replacing the more defensive minded Michael Essien and Sami Khedira.
Rayo Vallecano (probable)
D: Tito, Amat, Casado
M: Piti, Fuego, Trashorras, Adrian
F: Leo, Delibasic, Dominguez
Real Madrid (probable)
D: Arbeloa, Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo
M: Khedira, Alonso
Di Maria, Ozil, Ronaldo
Prediction: For all their problems so far this season, Real’s late salvo against Manchester City is the type of recovery that can reinvigorate a team. Against a side in Rayo that they have dominated in recent times, Real should get a much needed league victory to begin trying to peg back Barcelona’s advantage.
Rayo Vallecano 1-3 Real Madrid
Where to watch: Coverage of the match will be provided by beIN Sport from 1.45 p.m. ET, with a live stream, which you view at your own discretion, available here.