El Centrocampista

Villarreal continue to rise as Rayo slump again



Villarreal built on their morale-boosting mid-week draw against Real Madrid to record an impressive 2-0 victory over Rayo Vallecano in the hostile environment of Vallecas on Sunday. 

New Villarreal boss Miguel Angel Lotina set his side up in a very narrow 4-1-2-1-2, with Cani supporting the front two of Nilmar and Marco Ruben. Jose Ramon Sandoval set up with a 4-4-1-1, as prolific attacking midfielder Michu was again given the task of supporting on-loan Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa as Rayo look to continue their good home form.

It was a fairly even start to the game with Rayo trying to make home advantage count, and just as they began to take control of the game, Villarreal capitalised on a calamitous defensive error. A mix-up in the Rayo back line allowed Cani through and although his shot hit the bar, Marco Ruben was on hand to power his header home from the rebound.

Villarreal went in 1-0 up at the break and Sandoval decided on more aggressive tactics for the second half. He took off Piti and Casado,threw on forwards Raul Tamudo and Lass Bangoura, and went to three at the back in a bid to take the game to Villarreal, who did show a few signs of being fragile at the back.

The introduction of Bangoura immediately changed the tone of the game, using his blistering pace to give Villarreal left back Joan Oriol a torrid time, however Villarreal stood strong and some resilient goalkeeping from Lopez kept the home team at bay.

As Rayo continued to play high up the field, gaps began to appear in their backline and centreback Alejandro Arribas gave away a rash penalty, only for Rayo keeper Joel to make a splendid stop from Ruben, flying across to his right hand side to parry the ball away.

Sandoval’s side continued to press, searching for Bangoura on every attack as his pace continued to threaten the Villarreal backline, however they struggled to find a clear opening as they continued to press for an equaliser.

While pressing for the goal, holes began to appear ind defence once more, and with five minutes remaining, Villarreal full back Angel Lopez was left unmarked to finish the game off. To Rayo’s credit, they made a concerted effort to pull a goal back but they just didn’t have to fire power to beat Diego Lopez, while Cristian Zapata and Mateo Musacchio were also fairly solid throughout the game.

It’s a great start for the new coach Lotina – especially as Villarreal looked doomed a couple of weeks ago. Sunday’s display was a vast improvement on previous performances but they are still missing the creativity and guile of Giuseppe Rossi. Borja Valero has essentially been carrying the team and Nilmar has struggled with form and injuries all year. However, the progress of Marco Ruben does offer positives for Villarreal fans – with seven goals, he is their top scorer.

For Rayo, they have lost their way in recent weeks a little, and have now fallen to four defeats in their last six la liga games. However  the bravery from Sandoval at half time has to be admired. They were only 1-0 down at the break and few coaches would have gone from 4-4-1-1 to 3-4-3 so early. It didn’t pay off, but with a touch more luck they could have got something from the game.


You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Follow us and get La Liga news right in your feed!

Already a fan?