By David Ramiro
Madrid, Sep 28 (EFE).- Rayo Vallecano have outstripped all expectations so far this LaLiga season. Undefeated in five games, including three consecutive wins, the team’s new striker, a certain Radamel Falcao, has scored three goals in as many matches.
With 13 points out of a possible 21, the Madrid team, overshadowed by cross-city giants Real and Atletico, have already collected just over a third of the roughly 40 to 42 points needed to avoid relegation.
At the end of Matchday 7, Rayo sit fifth in the Spanish top-flight, one point above Barcelona (who have a game in hand) and one point behind champions Atletico Madrid.
No Rayo fan could have imagined this outcome when, this time last year, the team was still adjusting to new manager Andoni Iraola in the second division.
The Athletic Bilbao legend, Iraola has tightened Rayo’s defense and introduced an intense, possession-based style of play with rapid counter-attacks led by the team’s wingers.
In Sunday’s home game against Cádiz, Rayo played like a well-oiled machine to dominate most of the game with controlled possession.
The backbone of the team comprises 16 players who helped secure promotion to LaLiga this year, but there have been important additions, including Unai López and Pathé Ciss in midfield, as well as Randy Nteka, Falcao and Sergi Guardiola up front.
Rayo Vallecano have scored 13 times in seven games, a tally beaten only by Real Madrid’s 21 goals.
Falcao’s leadership up top has trickled down to the rest of the team. In just 89 minutes of playtime so far for his new club, he has scored three goals and has been involved in two others.
Not wanting to get carried away by recent performances, Iraola has kept his feet on the ground.
“We can do what it takes to save ourselves (from relegation), and we are having a good run but worse ones will come. We can be fifth, and in positions that please us, and you take a photo of the standings to see it, but we know that is not what we’re fighting for.”
Rayo’s next game will take place in Pamplona, against mid-table Osasuna. EFE