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Played
February 26, 2012 3:00 PM GMT
Estadio del Rayo Vallecano (de Vallecas Teresa Rivero) — Madrid
Referee:‬ David Fernández‎
Attendance:‬ 13500‎
 

Rayo Vallecano - Real Madrid Preview: League leaders aim to end hosts' three-game winning streak

Los Blancos look to extend their already-commanding advantage over Barcelona to 13 points when they return to La Liga action with a short trip across town to Vallecas

By Karthick Arvinth

Gonzalo Higuain - Real Madrid
Gonzalo Higuain - Real Madrid

PROBABLE LINEUPS

RAYO VALLECANO

Joel
Tito, Arribas, Pulido, Casado
Movilla, Fuego
Piti, Michu, Trashorras
Costa
REAL MADRID

Casillas
Arbeloa, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo
Granero, Alonso
Ozil, Kaka, Ronaldo
Higuain

Rayo Vallecano are boosted by the return from suspension of key trio Michu, Jose Casado and Alejandro Arribas for the visit of Real Madrid on Sunday.

Captain Michel is unlikely to feature after pulling up in training with a hamstring problem, while defender Mikel Labaka is also a doubt with a muscle injury.

The game is also likely to come too soon for goalkeeper Dani Gimenez, who has returned to training after four weeks on the sidelines with a thigh injury. Atletico Madrid loanee Joel is expected to continue in goal in his place.

Real Madrid have been hit by the news that Angel Di Maria could be sidelined for up to four weeks after he aggravated a leg injury in last weekend's win over Racing Santander.

In-form striker Karim Benzema will also miss the weekend clash due to a groin injury sustained in the 1-1 Champions League draw at CSKA Moscow, while Lassana Diarra is a doubt as he struggles to shake off a back problem.

Coach Jose Mourinho could opt to rotate his squad for the trip to Vallecas after a tiring midweek game in the bitter cold of the Russian capital. Defender Alvaro Arbeloa is available again after serving a one-match suspension and may feature.


DID YOU KNOW?
  • Rayo Vallecano are on a three-game winning streak that has seen them climb to eighth in the Primera Division standings.
  • Los Franjirrojos have lost six of their last 10 league fixtures played at Vallecas.
  • Rayo midfielder Michu (pictured) scored against Real after just 17 seconds in the reverse fixture in September - the fastest-ever goal scored at the Bernabeu by a visiting team.
  • Real Madrid have won eight of their last nine meetings with Rayo Vallecano.
  • The Castilian club's last defeat at Vallecas came way back in 1997, when Lorenzo Sanz was club president and Fabio Capello was in his first coaching spell at the Bernabeu.   
  • If Cristiano Ronaldo scores a hat-trick, he will become the first player in 18 years to score two hat-tricks against the same opponent in a single La Liga season.


Field Report
Reader's Predictions
Top 3 Predictions
Head to Head
La Liga ‎(LIGA)‎ 29 Mar 2014 Real Madrid 5 - Rayo Vallecano 0
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La Liga ‎(LIGA)‎ 2 Nov 2013 Rayo Vallecano 2 - Real Madrid 3
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La Liga ‎(LIGA)‎ 17 Feb 2013 Real Madrid 2 - Rayo Vallecano 0
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La Liga ‎(LIGA)‎ 24 Sep 2012 Rayo Vallecano 0 - Real Madrid 2
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La Liga ‎(LIGA)‎ 26 Feb 2012 Rayo Vallecano 0 - Real Madrid 1
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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
1JoelGoalkeeper
-CasadoDefender
18Jorge PulidoDefender
14ArribasDefender
2TitoDefender
9ArmenterosMidfielder
7MovillaMidfielder
9MichuMidfielder
15Javi FuegoMidfielder
10PitiStriker
19Diego CostaStriker
1CobeñoGoalkeeper
-Raúl BravoDefender
17TrashorrasMidfielder
-DiamankaMidfielder
23Andrija DelibasicStriker
20Raúl TamudoStriker
27LassStriker
1Iker CasillasGoalkeeper
12MarceloDefender
4Sergio RamosDefender
3PepeDefender
17ArbeloaDefender
7Cristiano RonaldoStriker
14Xabi AlonsoMidfielder
22KakáMidfielder
6Sami KhediraMidfielder
11Mesut ÖzilMidfielder
9Gonzalo HiguaínStriker
1AdànGoalkeeper
2Ricardo CarvalhoDefender
5Fabio CoentraoDefender
25Esteban GraneroMidfielder
7José Callejón Striker
9JoseluStriker
33Raúl Albiol Defender
Players to Watch
Michu
Michu
Position: Midfielder
Squad Number: 9
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
The Oviedo-born midfielder is Rayo's top scorer this season with 13 strikes and notched both goals in the club's 6-2 defeat at the hands of Real earlier in the season. The former Celta Vigo man can realistically hold out hope for a move to a bigger club if he can keep up his good form until the end of the campaign.
Gonzalo Higuaín
Gonzalo Higuaín
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 9
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
The Argentine striker looks set to make a rare start after playing second fiddle to Benzema for most of the season. The 24-year-old, who has been linked by the British press with a summer move to Manchester City, has a respectable goal tally of 17 in 33 appearances, and Benzema's injury gives him an opportunity to reclaim his status as Real's first-choice forward.
Probable Lineups
Joel 1
Casado 0
Jorge Pulido 18
Arribas 14
Tito 2
Armenteros 9
Movilla 7
Michu 9
Javi Fuego 15
Piti 10
Diego Costa 19
Iker Casillas 1
Marcelo 12
Sergio Ramos 4
Pepe 3
Arbeloa 17
Cristiano Ronaldo 7
Xabi Alonso 14
Kaká 22
Sami Khedira 6
Mesut Özil 11
Gonzalo Higuaín 9
Prediction
The trip to Rayo represents a potential banana skin for the league leaders, who are coming into this derby after a draining midweek game in Moscow. However, the gulf in class between the two teams is vast, and, barring a dramatic reversal of the hosts' woeful home form, Real should run out comfortable winners and go 13 points clear at the top of the table.
Editor's Prediction
Results
 
Top Scorers
Player   Goals Penalties
Cristiano Ronaldo Cristiano Ronaldo
Striker
Real Madrid
28 6
Diego Costa Diego Costa
Striker
Atlético Madrid
27 5
Lionel Messi Lionel Messi
Striker
Barcelona
26 6
Karim Benzema Karim Benzema
Striker
Real Madrid
17 0
Alexis Sánchez Alexis Sánchez
Striker
Barcelona
17 0