Atletico Madrid v Rayo Vallecano Prediction: La Liga Match on 02.01.2022
We are deep into the second half of the La Liga season, and the division is taking shape with the best sides separating themselves from the weaker teams. A hectic weekend is ahead, and sports fans celebrate the new year by diving into an important fixture list. Six games are scheduled to be played in the Spanish La Liga, and with the kick-off times staggered between 13:00 and 20:00 and the best games shown live on television, entertainment is guaranteed. The standout match that caught the eye of our team of football writers begins at 15:15 GMT and pairs Atletico Madrid and Rayo Vallecano.
Atletico Madrid started this season as La Liga champions and the kings of Spanish football after pulling off a shock title win last season. It may have been a surprise to see them hit the front then fend off Real Madrid and Barcelona, but supporters believed it was a new dawn. Many followers of the Spanish top-flight believed Atletico Madrid would kick on and enjoy a period of dominance.
This match will be the first meeting of Atletico Madrid and Rayo Vallecano since February 2019, when the teams last shared this division. A lot has changed at both clubs since Vallecano will be eager to show they are a stronger side than the one that lost 1-0 home and away to Madrid that season. The stats show that the visitors haven’t recorded a win over Atletico since 2013. Followers of the stats may also be interested to learn that each of the last three games between Atletico and Rayo has ended in 1-0 wins for the champions. Will we see another narrow victory here?
Atletico stuck on a losing streak
Atletico Madrid is not only in danger of losing their title – which already looks likely -, but they may lose out on a top-four finish and place in next season’s UEFA Champions League. Surrendering their place amongst Europe’s elite teams would be a hammer blow for the club, both in terms of their finances and reputation in the game. It would also pile pressure on the board that allowed players to leave following that remarkable title win. Madrid must respond, from the board to the coaching staff and the players, everyone at the club is under the spotlight, and the fans won’t stand for such an embarrassing fall from grace, not when they had the world at their feet less than a year ago.
Madrid is fifth in the La Liga table following a dreadful run of form. The home team has lost each of their last four league games and collected just three of the last 15 points available to them. That’s a poor run of form for a defending champion, and it ranks as one of the worst runs in the league at present. They are looking hopeless at present, devoid of confidence, and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see their winless run rumble on for a while longer. There has been nothing from the players over the last month that suggests better times are just around the corner.
Atletico Madrid’s season isn’t much better, and they have eight wins and five draws against five defeats, scoring 29 goals but conceding 22. When taking a closer look at those numbers, we note that defence is worse than Getafe’s, a team currently fighting against the threat of relegation and is down in 16th place. The goals conceded isn’t too far away from the league’s three bottom sides. In attack, Atletico Madrid has scored at least as many goals as half of the four teams above them in the table. It’s no mystery why Madrid are struggling this season, and that leaky defence must improve.
Vallecano are performing above expectations
Every La Liga season seems to have at least one dark horse, an outsider that performs above expectations and forces their way into the mix for a top-four finish. That’s one of the reasons why Spanish football is so exciting. This season the underdogs with bite appear to be Rayo Vallecano as they blaze a trail of glory towards the prize places. They are playing better than even their most avid fans could have predicted, and, as we enter a new year, Rayo looks more than capable of maintaining their push. The visitors are growing in confidence and fear no opponent at this level.
They travel to Madrid sitting higher in the table than their hosts, and that will give real encouragement to everyone with a connection to this improving club. They can be found proudly perched in fourth place with season stats of nine wins, three draws and six defeats, scoring 26 goals and conceding 18. The 30 points collected means a title challenge is already unlikely, with current league leaders Real Madrid on 46 and showing no signs of slowing down. Vallecano’s points tally is eight less than second-place Sevilla and three fewer than Real Betis in third. From the teams behind waiting to pounce, just two points is the difference between fourth and eighth.
Rayo line-up with their form in the last five games showing three wins, one draw and a defeat. One of the most impressive aspects of their rise to fourth has been an uncharacteristic strong defence. Vallecano has one of the best defensive records in La Liga and has leaked just two more goals than Blancos. They were last seen in action collecting a crucial win, and those camped inside the away dressing room will believe they are good enough to bag another maximum payout.
Atletico Madrid v Rayo Vallecano prediction
Atletico Madrid is the champions and boasts the home advantage for this game, but they are a team that is seriously out of form and looking fragile at the back. Their fans will expect them to bounce back and win this match, but if Madrid takes the challenge of Rayo lightly, they could be made to pay a hefty price.
The visitors have impressed even their harshest of critics this season, and there has been nothing in their play of late that suggests their luck is about to run dry. This is a hard-working team of talented players and a squad pulling in the same direction. They aren’t the most skilful in Spain, but few push themselves as hard in search of victory.
La Liga odds
The pre-match betting odds available to registered members of 22bet has Atletico Madrid priced at 1.325 with Rayo Vallecano available at 11 and the draw 4.8.
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