Preview: Real Madrid vs. Rayo Vallecano

Preview: Real Madrid vs. Rayo Vallecano

Seeking to avoid a third successive defeat in all competitions, Real Madrid welcome Rayo Vallecano to the Santiago Bernabeu for a La Liga clash on Wednesday evening.

Los Blancos will be seeking revenge against their fellow Madrid-based counterparts after suffering a 3-2 defeat in the reverse fixture at the Estadio de Vallecas in November last year.

Following their bitterly disappointing Champions League semi-final exit at the hands of Manchester City, Real Madrid suffered a slender 1-0 La Liga defeat away against Valencia on Sunday – their fourth successive away loss in all competitions.

Diego Lopez scored the only goal of the game just after the half-hour mark, but the contest at the Mestalla was marred by alleged racist abuse aimed at Vinicius Junior, with the game stopped for 10 minutes in the second half before the Brazilian winger was sent off in the closing stages following a melee with the opposition.

Vinicius has since taken to social media to state that “racism is normal in La Liga”, while FIFA president Gianni Infantino has offered “full solidarity” to the Los Blancos attacker, insisting that there is “no place for racism in football or in society”.

Real Madrid’s defeat to Valencia has seen them slip down to third in the La Liga table, with rivals Atletico Madrid moving one point clear in second place after beating Osasuna; only twice in the last nine seasons have Los Blancos finished as low as third in the Spanish top flight.

With three games remaining and no other competitions to focus on for the Copa de Rey winners, Carlo Ancelotti’s prime target is to secure second place in La Liga, with Wednesday’s clash against Rayo Vallecano followed by encounters with Sevilla and Athletic Bilbao.

Los Blancos will be confident of returning to winning ways in midweek as they have won each of their last 11 home encounters with Rayo Vallecano in all tournaments, scoring at least three goals on eight of those occasions with a memorable 10-2 league triumph taking place during this run in December 2015.

Rayo Vallecano’s hopes of securing European football for next season were dealt a major blow after suffering a 2-1 home defeat against relegation-threatened Espanyol last weekend.

A 42nd-minute penalty converted by Raul de Tomas cancelled out an earlier opener from Sergi Darder, but the visitors ultimately claimed all three points courtesy of a strike from Nico Melaned just before the hour mark.

Andoni Iraola’s side remain 11th in the La Liga table, but the gap to seventh place and Europa Conference League qualification has increased to four points following Athletic Bilbao’s win over Celta Vigo.

Hopes of securing their first top-flight finish for a decade are still firmly alive, though, as they are only one point behind Osasuna in 10th and two points behind Girona in eighth with three games remaining.

Rayo Vallecano’s form away from home has left a little to be desired in recent weeks as they have failed to win any of their last seven games on the road, losing five times and conceding 15 goals during this run.

The Franjirrojos have always been in the shadows of fellow Madrid-based clubs Real and Atletico, but they managed to claim the bragging rights in their last encounter against the former, with Santi Comesana, Alvaro Garcia and Oscar Trejo all on the scoresheet in a 3-2 home victory six months ago.

Real Madrid La Liga form:

Real Madrid form (all competitions):

Rayo Vallecano La Liga form:

We say: Real Madrid 3-1 Rayo Vallecano
Both teams will be keen to bounce back from defeats last weekend and claim maximum points in their quests to achieve their respective targets in the final three games of the campaign.

Rayo Vallecano will fancy their chances of causing another upset against Real Madrid, but we believe that the hosts will continue their strong form on home soil and come out on top on Wednesday, even without the presence of Vinicius in attack.

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