Rayo vs Real Madrid Prediction: Goals expected in Spanish capital

 | February 17 | 

6 mins read

Real Madrid make the short trip across the Spanish capital to take on Rayo Vallecano on Sunday as they bid to open up an eight point advantage at the top of La Liga.

This may well turn out to be the fortnight where the destiny of the 2023/24 Spanish title is effectively sealed. Real Madrid outclassed main challengers Girona 4-0 last weekend at the Santiago Bernabeu to put themselves firmly in the box seat and with the Catalans facing a tough Monday night trip to Bilbao, Carlo Ancelotti will be hoping his team can seize the moment and build up a commanding advantage.

Real Madrid were missing their main four central defenders which made the ease with which they swept Girona aside all the more surprising. They had at least recovered Nacho by the time of their Tuesday night trip to RB Leipzig in the Champions League.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side endured a much tougher evening in Germany and had Andriy Lunin to thank for a string of fine saves in a game that the Spanish side somehow won 1-0. The ease with which Leipzig found space and created chances against this patched up Real Madrid defence should at least offer Rayo Vallecano a bit of encouragement heading into this game.

Rayo Vallecano vs Real Madrid Tips

  • Bet 1 - Rayo Vallecano - Over 3.5 Shots on Target @ 5/6
  • Bet 2 - Both Teams to Score @ 4/5

If this match is as good as last season’s meeting, we’ll be in for something special. Rayo won that game 3-2 on the eve of the 2022 World Cup and those were certainly happier times in Vallecas with Rayo’s positive approach yielding positive results under Andoni Iraola.

Things haven’t gone quite as smoothly this term. Bournemouth-bound Iraola was replaced by Francisco in the summer but despite some positive early results and a continued ability to create chances, Rayo have struggled badly of late with poor finishing costing them a host of points.

A run of just one win in 14 league games, culminating in a 2-1 defeat in Mallorca last weekend, proved sufficient for the Rayo board to opt for change this week. Francisco is gone and the new man is Iñigo Perez who becomes the youngest boss in La Liga and by some margin at the age of just 36.

Perez was assistant to Iraola last season. He was also due to move to Bournemouth as assistant manager at the Vitality Stadium, but failed to get a UK work permit and will now get his first taste of management in Spain with Rayo.

It’s a real baptism of fire for the inexperienced Perez who faces the top two in his first two games in charge. Despite losing their last three, Rayo do still have a seven point cushion on the relegation zone though, so they’re not under immediate pressure to get results and this game in particular feels like something of a free hit for Perez.

Having worked with Iraola, that may give us an idea of the kind of football he’ll look to play. Rayo played high intensity, high risk football last term with both full backs given license to roam forwards and Real Madrid may not be relishing the prospect of a physically demanding derby game at the end of a busy week.

Team News:

Carlo Ancelotti does at least have a number of options should he wish to freshen up the team that struggled in Leipzig. Fran Garcia is expected to come in at left back on his return to Vallecas where he spent three impressive seasons before returning to the Santiago Bernabeu in the summer. Luka Modric, Lucas Vazquez and Joselu are also options with Toni Kroos perhaps the most likely candidate for a rest.

Antonio Rudiger is doubtful again which means Real Madrid could continue with Nacho and Aurelien Tchouameni in central defence. Jude Bellingham also misses out once more which is a significant blow for Los Blancos.

Rayo will be hoping for a new manager bounce and Iñigo Perez has close to a fully fit squad to choose from. They do have a doubt over left back Pep Chavarria but Alfonso Espino is likely to be preferred in any case.

Despite the change in the dugout, it’s unlikely we’ll see radical personnel changes with Rayo not blessed with a huge squad. The big decision for Perez may be who to start up front with neither Raul De Tomas nor Sergio Camello showing much confidence in front of goal this term.

Match Odds:

Real Madrid head into the game as the 3/5 favourites, although they haven’t always found it easy against Rayo of late, losing here last season while they could only draw the reverse fixture earlier this term.

Rayo Vallecano are priced at 9/2 while the Draw is available at 3/1. You can also back Double Chance - Rayo Vallecano or Draw at 5/4 if you fancy the hosts to get something from the game.

The home team come into the match on the back of three straight 2-1 defeats. You can back Real Madrid to win 2-1 at 7/1 here while Real Madrid and Both Teams to Score is priced at 12/5.

While there’s no Bellingham, Real Madrid should have all of their forwards available. Vinicius Junior is hard to drop on current form and he’s 6/4 to score anytime while his most likely strike partner Rodrygo is available at 7/4 to score anytime. We should see Joselu at some point in the game too and he’s 11/8 to score anytime and 4/1 to score last. 

Bet 1 - Rayo Vallecano - Over 3.5 Shots on Target @ 5/6

Despite their run of poor results which led to the sacking of Francisco, Rayo Vallecano have been creating chances and getting plenty of shots away. They had 22 in their most recent home game against Sevilla with 5 hitting the target and they rank in the top eight of La Liga when it comes to shots per game and shots on target per game.

Having lots of attempts was also a feature of the previous Iraola regime and it’s likely that Iñigo Perez will send his team out with plenty of positive intent here against a Real Madrid side that is short on central defensive options.

Andriy Lunin was required to make nine saves in Leipzig on Tuesday and there looks to be value in backing Rayo Vallecano - Over 3.5 Shots on Target at 5/6 here.

Over3.5SOTRayo

Bet 2 - Both Teams to Score @ 4/5

While this is obviously a tough game for any incoming coach, let alone one so inexperienced, this might not be the worst moment to be catching Real Madrid given their selection issues and on the back of two of the biggest games of their season.

It was a bit of a miracle that Ancelotti’s team kept a clean sheet in midweek and Rayo Vallecano do create chances. Perez is likely to set his stall out to be positive here and try to play on the front foot as much as possible and there’s every chance we see quite an open game and I’m backing Both Teams to Score at 4/5, a winning bet in each of Rayo’s last three matches.

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Check out our other Football Betting Tips here. 

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