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On Wednesday, Barça face Rayo Vallecano in the Copa del Rey Round of 16. Here is our lowdown on Los Franjirrojos.
Where are they from?
Rayo are based in the Spanish capital, Madrid, in the Vallecas neighbourhood, which is made up of two districts: Puente de Vallecas (population approx 240,000) and Villa de Vallecas (population approx 65,000).
Rayo Vallecano were founded on May 29, 1924 at the home of Doña Prudencia Priego, wife of Rayo’s first president, Julián Huerta. Their first proper stadium, Rodival, wasn’t built until after the Spanish Civil War. The club underwent a name change from A.D. el Rayo to A.D. Rayo Vallecano during the 1947/48 season.
Current stadium, Campo de Fútbol de Vallecas, was inaugurated on December 8, 1956 in a friendly against Carioca América. It wouldn’t be until the 1977/78 campaign that they would make their debut in the Spanish top-flight, under the stewardship of Héctor Núñez.
Their original kit was white shirt and shorts with black socks, and it’s believed that the red stripe on their home shirts, which wasn’t displayed until 1949 after an agreement with Atlético Madrid, was a tribute to Argentinian side, River Plate.
Known as Los Franjirrojos (The Red Sashes) or Los Vallecanos (The Vallecano), club colours are now an all white kit with the distinctive red sash that goes from the left shoulder to the right side. Former Barça goalkeeper and current Sevilla coach, Julen Lopetegui, played for Rayo between 1997 and 2002, and also managed them in 2003.
Did you know?
- Coach Andoni Iraola played for Athletic Club against Barça in the Copa del Rey final 3 times
- Striker Leo Ulloa won the Premier League title with Leicester City
- Zinedine Zidane's son Luca Zidane plays in goal for them
Of the last 26 matches in all competitions stretching back to November 1993, Barça have tasted defeat on just three occasions. There have been three draws and 19 Barça wins, with a balance of goals of 82 to 22 in favour of Barça.
Rayo have not beaten Barça at Vallecas since 2002, with Barça currently on a 13-game winning streak against the team from Madrid, the best such streak for the blaugranes against any current professional team.
Rayo have been on a great run of form of late. Despite losing their most recent fixture at home to Mallorca (1-3), that was their first defeat in nine games, the last reverse coming at Leganes (0-1) on December 2. Aside from a 0-0 draw at Girona, the other seven games were wins in which Rayo scored at least two goals in every match.
Top scorer 2020/21 (all competitions): Antoñín (6), Andrés Martín, Isi Palazón (4)
Just 38 years of age, Andoni Iraola Sagarna has been in charge at Rayo since August 2020. Aside from a brief stint at the end of his career at New York City, Iraola spent virtually his entire professional playing career at Athletic Club.
His LaLiga debut came against Barça on August 30, 2003, in a 0-1 win for the Catalans, whilst his final game for the Basques was also against the blaugranes; a 3-1 loss in the 2015 Copa del Rey final played at Camp Nou.
This will be the first time he has faced Barça in his coaching career but he is unlikely to be overawed. During a spell at Mirandés, he took them to the Copa del Rey semi-finals in 2020, beating Celta Vigo, Sevilla and Villarreal along the way.
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