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From the working class neighbourhood of Vallecas, Rayo is one of five teams from the Community of Madrid currently playing in La Liga. 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.
Typically regarded as an ‘elevator team’, this is the club’s seventh spell in the first division since the seventies.
Head to head
Barça lost twice in a row to Rayo in 2002, but since then have strung together 12 consecutive league victories, recording some massive scores in the process, including 7-0, 6-0 and 6-1 wins and netting five goals on three occasions.
Rayo players have seen five red cards in the team’s last five encounters with Barça.
The meeting at Vallecas earlier this season was one of the most dramatic games ever involving the two sides. Rayo responded to Luis Suárez’s opener with two goals and Barça were headed for defeat until Ousmane Dembélé and Suárez again secured a 3-2 win in the dying minutes.
Rayo only won two of their first 16 league fixtures before a run of four wins and a draw suggested they might end up breaking clear of the relegation zone. However, five successive defeats have followed and they remain second from bottom in the table.
They stepped out of the Copa del Rey at the earliest stage following defeat to fellow madrileños Leganés.
Goalkeeper Alberto García is a Catalan who spent time at La Masia in his youth and actually made his Liga debut against Barça while playing for Real Murcia in 2007.
Defender Alex Moreno alSO spent time in the FC Barcelona youth system.
Rayo players with senior international caps include Stole Dimitrievski (Macedonia), Luis Advíncula (Peru), Gaël Kakuta (DR Congo) and Lass Bangoura (Guinea).
Only Leo Messi and Luis Suárez have attempted more shots this season than Raúl de Tomás, whose ten goals make him the tenth highest scorer in La Liga. No other Rayo player has found the net more than three times. But though they don’t score too much, they do get their shots on target, their 48% accuracy rate being the fourth highest in the competition.
Michel was a Rayo Vallecano stalwart, making over 300 appearances for the club between 1993 and 2012. Following retirement he was immediately made part of the club’s coaching staff and became first team manager in 2017, leading the club back into the first division.
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