A Rayo rumble is happening in the Madrid's suburbs

          Radamel leading Rayo's rise

          2021/11/24 17:17
          Alex Lawes

          This time last year, Rayo Vallecano sat in the middle-of-the-table in the Segunda Division in Spain. With just two games of the season to go, they would sit on the outside of the top six and the playoff places. After 45 minutes of the second-leg of their playoff semi-final against Girona, they were 2-1 down away from home, in Catalonia.

          Now, after a 3-1 win against a Real Mallorca side that finished 15 points above them in the league table, Rayo sit sixth in La Liga – above Barcelona.

          A brief history

          It is no surprise to anybody that has seen Rayo’s kit that they were founded with a nod to Argentina giants River Plate. They started out as an affiliate club to Atletico Madrid so had an agreement with them, in 1949, to add the red and diagonal stripe across the home kit. 

          ©Rayo Vallecano

          Despite being a famous and well-known club, they have often drifted through the leagues. They fell as far as the third tier in 2008 but have spent all but five seasons since 1956 in the first and second divisions; with a relatively even split in those leagues.

          They qualified for the UEFA Cup in the 2000-01 season and managed to make it to the quarter-finalists where they were defeated by compatriots, and eventual runners’ up, Alaves. Along the way, they defeated Bordeaux and Lokomotiv Moscow. 

          The Bukaneros

          Perhaps the reason as to why Rayo Vallecano are such a well-known club, despite their limited success and pedigree, would be their supporters.

          Los Bukaneros are a famously left-wing ultras section of the Rayo Vallecano support. They are an anti-racist, anti-fascist supporter group who attempt to represent the ‘barrio’ in Madrid. This is the working-class community. 

          Social work is prevalent among the supporters and even past players and managers. It is a club that stands for more than the football that is on-the-pitch. 

          Iraola, Trejo and Falcao

          Former Athletic Club right-back Andoni Iraola performed two steady jobs with AEK Larnakas and Mirandes before being appointed manager of Rayo in the summer of 2020.

          Iraola’s style of play is front-foot and, especially at home, they can be an attacking and aggressive side with an emphasis on taking the game to the opposition.

          ©Getty / Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno

          That style of play is beneficial for captain Oscar Trejo among the likes of talented players such as Isi and Alvaro Garcia providing ammunition for the still surprisingly excellent Radamel Falcao up-front. El Tigre joined the club just after the close of the transfer window and he has managed to score five goals in La Liga, in just four starts for the club. 

          Los Franjirojjos sit at the top of La Liga’s home form table with six wins and one draw from their opening seven matches at Vallecas; their home ground. 

          Whether that is sustainable or not is unknown, albeit it seems unlikely. Regardless of that, Rayo’s goal this season was to not be cut adrift – let alone avoid relegation.

          With less than half of the season gone, The Vallecans look like they have already survived a long battle with the drop and, sitting sixth in the table and in the European spots, who knows what could happen for this unique club?

          The fact they are doing this against a backdrop of off-the-field issues, due to a sub-par ownership, is even more impressive. 

          Radamel Falcao
          NameRadamel Falcao García Zárate
          Born1986-02-10(35 -yrs-old)
          PositionForward (Striker)


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