Matchday 37 – Real Sociedad 2-1 Rayo Vallecano – Match Report
Sunday 8th May 2016
BY PAUL MURRAY
I attended this match and was accompanied by over 2,000 Rayo Vallecano supporters who had travelled from the capital to support their team at this vital match in their battle against relegation.
Rayo Head Coach Jemez bizarrely elected to play only three defenders and pack his midfield. This left them very vulnerable to being counterattacked as the defenders struggled to adapt to the system.
There was much suspicion that the result of this game would be influenced by outside factors. Rayo had strangely been made favourites by the bookmakers, which had no logic for a team with such an abysmal record away from home. Both teams also share the same shirt sponsor and it would be natural for Qbao.Com to want both of their teams to remain in the Primera Division. However it did not turn out that way and the game unfolded as a normal, but a bit of an edgy contest.
Paco Jemez’s side started strongly in terms of possession but fell behind in the 13th minute, following Real’s first attempt on goal. Rayo failed to properly clear a high corner and it dropped to Mikel Oyarzabal, on the edge of the penalty area, who half volleyed the ball as it was still rising, to beat goalkeeper Juan Carlos at his near post.
The corner was originally won by Oyarzabal when he pressured two Rayo central defenders into a mistake, that resulted in them conceding the corner. This proves the value of pressing high up the pitch, forcing mistakes from defenders, who prefer to have more time to consider their options.
Rayo responded to this set back by continuing to push forward and they stepped up the pressure, gaining increased possession. They succeeded in creating a number of chances but were unable to beat Geronimo Rulli in the home goal.
The home side had identified the space in between the visiting three defenders. They worked hard to exploit these gaps by using the width of the pitch and playing a long ball behind the Rayo defence. Before half time Real had two great breakaway opportunities, but neither resulted in even a shot, which gave cause for concern that the home side were going easy on their visitors. Carlos Vela looked particularly guilty in this regard.
Half time saw Vela replaced by Sanse striker Jon Bautista, and within five minutes Rayo found themselves with a mountain to climb, as Real doubled their lead. Zurutuza combined with Oyarzabal on the left wing in a devastating counterattack attack which resulted in Bautista executing a perfect finish, to grab his first professional goal.
Rayo finally pulled a goal back on 69 minutes thanks to Javi Guerra’s brilliant strike from outside the area, setting up an exciting and tense final 20 minutes. But they were unable to find an equaliser, even though Esteban Granero was sent off for Real Sociedad with 15 minutes remaining. The red card seemed a harsh decision and probably cost Sanse midfield player Igor Zubeldia his debut, as I was expecting him to be introduced at any minute.
Eusebio replaced Oyarzabal with Bruma with 13 minutes left, but as usual he was completely ineffective, justifying the anticipated decision to end his loan period and not sign him on a permanent basis. Adios Bruma, you will not be missed.
Rayo dominated the latter stages as the relegation candidates desperately sought out an equalising goal. However, their nervousness and absence of ideas resulted in them not creating much of note. The introduction of Manucho in the 64th minute gave Rayo greater purpose and his headed attempt in 84th minute forced Rulli into another fine save. The visitors kept going right to the final whistle, urged on by their supporters, but they ran out of ideas and were unable to find an equalising goal.
This result has left Rayo in desperate trouble. They must find a way to summon up the spirit that kept them up on the final day of the season in 2011-12. Other results today saw fellow strugglers Granada beat Sevilla and the draw between Getafe and Sporting meant they both moved a point ahead of Paco Jemez’s side.
This has resulted in Rayo dropping to 19th in the Primera Division and they no longer have their destiny in their own hands. Rayo go into the final round of games with a home fixture to already-relegated Levante. They also need Sporting Gijon and Getafe to lose, against Villarreal and Real Betis respectively.
After the match Paco Jemez said: “We needed the best day to continue to rely on ourselves and we had our worst day of the season. I guess that means we’re in the Segunda. When you’re so bad on a definitive day, you can’t think of anything other than suffering,” he said after the match, Marca reports.
“As long as the maths doesn’t say otherwise, we’ll fight, but it’s complicated. It was essential we reach the final day depending on ourselves, and we’re not there. I feel sorry for the fans. The dressing room is very sad, with people crying like children. They’re great professionals who have worked hard. It’s on my head. The players can’t be blamed for anything.”
I thought that the Rayo fans were fantastic in the way they supported their team. They put the home fans to shame in terms of vocal support. Should they be relegated next week their supporters will be missed, and La Liga will be considerably poorer for their absence.
Much will be (rightly) made that both Real goals were scored by the young players Oyarzabal and Bautista. Next season both of these players are likely to become fixtures in the first team, which is a triumph for the Cantera system. This should hasten the departure of senior (and high wage earning) players like Vela and Granero. I hope this is the case, and that Jonathas joins them through the exit door.
There are other Sanse players that may also be ready to step up, and the future of the club is firmly at the feet of these young men. With the recent confirmation that Inigo is now contracted until 2021, the consistency and versatility of Aritz Elustondo and the possible purchase of Juanmi, the average age of our squad will reduce substantially.
This is a very positive sign for the club going forward, and could result in Real mounting a challenge for the European qualification places with a young and locally produced squad of players. This is what football should be about.
The match statistics showed: Possession 38/62% in favour of Rayo, we managed 6 shots of which only 2 were on target. We won 5 corners and received 2 yellow cards: Prieto (28 mins) and Bautista (70 mins). We received 1 red card Granero on 76 minute.
Real Sociedad: Rulli, Elustondo, Mikel, D. Reyes, De la Bella, Granero, Illarra, Xabi Prieto (c), Oyarzabal (Bruma, min. 77), Zurutuza (R. Pardo, min. 67) and Carlos V. (Bautista, min. 46)
Rayo Vallecano: Juan Carlos, Quini, Llorente R., A. Crespo (Jonathan M., min. 77), Tito R. R., Trashorras (c), Jozabed (Javi Guerra, min. 46), Pablo H., Bebé (Manucho, min. 64), Embarba and Miku.
Goals: 1-0: Oyarzabal, min. 13; 2-0: Bautista, min. 50; 2-1: Javi Guerra, min. 69.
Referee: Jaime Latre. Booked Xabi Prieto and Bautista (Real Sociedad) and A. Crespo (Rayo). Granero was issued a direct red card on minute 76.
Attendance: 18,873 spectators.