Madrid, Nov 5 (EFE).- Any other year a trip to the Santiago Bernabéu would be a question of damage limitation but this is the first time the circus that is Rayo Vallecano travels across Madrid with a Tiger in tow.
The underdogs are riding high so far in a league table that has been blown wide open at the top and where just three points separate Real Sociedad, Real Madrid, Sevilla and Atlético de Madrid.
The team from Vallecas, a working class neighborhood in south Madrid, head into the tie on Saturday night in sixth place, just four points behind second-place Real Madrid.
The last time Madrid’s answer to David and Goliath met was in April 2019, when Rayo beat the cross-city visitors 1-0 in front of a rapturous home crowd.
A lot has happened since.
Rayo dropped to the second division, the pandemic came, the crowds disappeared, Rayo were promoted, the pandemic waned, the crowds returned and a man called Radamel Falcao, one of the world’s greatest strikers in his prime, returned to Madrid from Istanbul.
A homecoming of sorts, almost a decade after he left Atlético de Madrid, where he scored 52 goals between 2011-13.
But this time, the now 35-year-old Colombian would don the red lightning bolt of Rayo Vallecano.
Falcao-mania gripped the humble club from the off.
His number 3 shirt, chosen in honor of his late father, who played as a defender, sold out the same day it hit the shelves.