Paul Murray’s Report / Rayo Vallecano – Real Sociedad
Matchday 18 – Rayo Vallecano 2-2 Real Sociedad – Match Report
Sunday 3rd January 2016
In an entertaining open match the teams shared the points which realistically did neither club many favours. Rayo managed to halt a 5 match losing streak and Real gained a valuable away point, but both teams really needed all 3 points to distance themselves from what appears to be a forthcoming relegation battle. After the match Rayo coach Paco Jemez accused his players of not being fit for La Liga after they twice squandered the lead in Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Real Sociedad.
Real manager Eusebio Sacristan selected a team that had Markel and Illarra in midfield with Ruben Pardo chosen to play in front of them, replacing the injured Sergio Canales. Pardo put in a much better performance as he played 15-20 metres further forward than usual. He was much more positive with the ball but the mediocre movement of Vela and Jonathas prevented him from really dominating the match. Aritz Elustondo was again selected to play a central defensive role for the second consecutive match.
Rayo took the lead after after 15 minutes when Trashorras delivered an outswinging corner and Llorente headed the ball into the bottom corner without a challenge from a Real defender. This highlighted a problem that Eusebio’s selection caused in employing 2 central defenders who are both under 6ft tall. This system makes us very vulnerable from set pieces and in my opinion needs rethinking.
La Reala hit back in the 27th minute after Rayo conceded a free-kick about 45 metres out and in a wide position. Ruben Pardo delivered a fine deep cross and some poor goalkeeping from Yoel Rodriguez, who made little attempt to deal with the Pardo delivery saw Elustondo get there first to equalise.
On 51 minutes Rayo got themselves back in front when the visitors failed to deal with a counter attack and Jozabed pounced to put the home side back in front. This was against the run of play but Real were caught out as they over committed their defenders forward leaving them exposed defensively. But the Basque team continued to press forward and again made the most of a set-piece to draw level. In the 63rd minute Bruma lost his marker at the far post to volley home delivery from Pardo. It was a great corner and an even better finish from Bruma who again had a good match.
Eusebio introduced Prieto for Illarra in the 65th minute and finally Chory Castro for Bruma in the 85th minute, but a winner was to elude them. Overall we were the better side and really should have taken all 3 points. The experiment of playing 2 central defenders who are short in stature makes us defensively mobile on the ground but vulnerable in the air from corners.
The Serbian player Srdan Babic, who is currently playing for the Sanse team, is very tall and also left footed. Is he the reason that negotiations on Inigo’s contract appear to remain unresolved? Pairing Babic with Elustondo next season would resolve the lack of height issue and offer an explanation why Inigo’s contract has not been locked down as yet.
This is pure speculation but let’s consider the possible alternatives to Aritz Elustondo continuing as a central defender. Mikel Gonzales is often injured and can be inconsistent, Diego Reyes seems to have dropped out of favour entirely and Ansotegi has not really been used this season. It seems doubtful that even when he is finally fit that Raul Navas will contribute much to first team action this season. When you consider that Elustondo is likely to lose the right back position to Joseba Zaldua, when he recovers from injury, the option of Aritz playing in the centre would be a way for him to retain his first team place.
In attack I thought that Vela and Jonathas had poor games with both players showing little commitment or energy. If we are going to climb the table we need a much improved performance from these two expensive but ineffective players.
The match statistics showed: Possession 47/53% in favour of Real Sociedad, we managed 13 shots of which 8 were on target. We won 7 corners and received 3 yellow cards: Carlos Martinez (20 mins), Markel (37) and Yuri (70 mins).