The lowdown on Rayo Vallecano

The lowdown on Rayo Vallecano

All the essential information on the side that visits FC Barcelona on Sunday at 7pm CET

La Liga is back this weekend and FC Barcelona are home to Rayo Vallecano on Sunday at 7pm CET. Let’s take a closer look at the team with the iconic red sash.


Hailing from Madrid’s typically working class neighbourhood of Vallecas, the name ‘Rayo’ means ‘stripe’ and refers to the club’s distinctive red diagonal on their shirt, which allegedly honours the colours of Argentinian club River Plate.

The club was founded in 1924, and is typically regarded as the ‘third team’ in the Spanish capital, although that mantle has been challenged in recent years by Getafe and Leganés.

Rayo did not play La Liga football until 1977. Since then, they have come to be regarded as the archetypical ‘elevator’ team of Spanish football, being relegated eight times, most recently in 2019, but always eventually bouncing back up.

Head to head

Until October 2021, Barça were on an incredible run of 14 straight wins against Rayo, including 7-0, 6-0 and 6-1 demolition jobs, but there has been a worrying change to the narrative of late, with Rayo winning three of the last four meetings and drawing the other two, including their first ever win at Spotify Camp Nou. That means five league meetings in which Barça have not beaten Rayo, collecting just two points from a possible 15.

The negative run continued when the teams met at Vallecas earlier this season. Rayo lead from the first half thanks to a goal from Unai López and Barça could only equalise thanks to a Lejeune own goal ten minutes from the end.

Last five meetings
25/11/23 (LIGA) Rayo Vallecano 1-1 Barça
26/04/23 (LIGA) Rayo Vallecano 2-1 Barça
13/08/22 (LIGA) Barça 0-0 Rayo Vallecano
24/04/22 (LIGA) Barça 0-1 Rayo Vallecano
27/10/21 (LIGA) Rayo Vallecano 1-0 Barça

However, throughout the course of all history, Barça have a wonderful record at home to Rayo, including some enormous wins, such as by 6-0 in 1996/97 and 2013/14, and 7-1 in 1988/89. However, the biggest of all was a stunning 9-0 win in 1979, when the legendary Austrian Hans Krankl nabbed five of them.


Form guide

Rayo's season got off to a strong enough start, with just two defeats from their first 12 outings. But they followed that with just one win from their next 16 games and that run was accompanied by a gradual slide down the table, during which coach Francisco would end up getting replaced by Iñigo Perez.

There has been a slight improvement in results under the new manager, and they are now virtually assured another season of first division football, although the last few weeks have been far too close for comfort, in which other than a 2-1 defeat of Villarreal they have lost four of their last five games.

The players

Rayo Vallecano has the oldest average age in La Liga, 29 years and 239 days, including 38-year-old Falcao, the seventh oldest player ever to play in La liga. And his 36-year-old team-mate Trejo is 18th on the list. Such contrast to Barça, the second youngest squad in the competition, and with all four of the youngest current players (Lamine YamalPau CubarsíHéctor Fort and Marc Guiu).

International caps
Radamel Falcao (Colombia, 104); Stole Dimitrievski (North Macedonia, 68); Andrei Rațiu (Romania, 16), Bebé (Cape Verde, 20), Iván Balliu (Albania, 11), Raúl de Tomás (Spain, 4), Pathé Ciss (Senegal, 4)

Barça connections
Born in Catalonia but an international for Albania due to his father's family, Ivan Balliu (pictured below) grew up at La Masia and made his Barça B debut in 2010/11 under Luis Enrique, and later played for two more years under Eusebio Sacristán before leaving for Arouca in Portugal. The right back also played for Metz in France and Almeria before joining Rayo in 2021.

Balliu, en una imatge del partit de la primera volta. FOTO: Arxiu - FCB

Reserve goalkeeper Daniel Cárdenas spent a year of his youth at La Masia, but it was at Levante that he turned pro.

The manager

Iñigo Perez was a product of the Athletic academy, although it was at Numancia and Osasuna where he made his name as player. After retirement, he joined his old friend Andoni Iraola as assistant manager at Rayo. When Iraola departed for Bournemouth, Perez was unable to join him due to work permit issues and instead remained at Rayo, where he was appointed head coach last February following the dismissal of Francisco.

In stark contrast to his playing staff (two of whom are actually older than him), Perez is the youngest of the 20 coaches in La Liga right now.

Força Barça
Força Barça

Related to this article

Close article

Related to this article