Real Madrid will hope to reclaim the top spot in La Liga when they take on Rayo Vallecano at Estadio de Vallecas on Monday.

Matchday 13 of the 2022/23 La Liga season will wind up on Monday, with the reigning champions in action. Real Madrid will travel to Estadio de Vallecas to lock horns with Rayo Vallecano, hoping to get back to the top of the table after Barcelona beat Almeria on Saturday.

Rayo Vallecano might not have started 2022/23 as strongly as they began the previous season. But Los Franjirrojos have still been decent in the first two months of the campaign, climbing into the top half after the first 12 rounds of fixtures. And if results go their way, they will be able to climb to seventh in the standings.

On the other hand, not much has stopped Real Madrid thus far in 2022/23. The reigning La Liga champions have lost just once all season, with RB Leipzig beating them in the UEFA Champions League. And Carlo Ancelotti’s men are unbeaten in La Liga, winning ten of the 12 games, drawing twice.

The reverse fixture last season saw Real Madrid battle hard to clinch three points, with Karim Benzema scoring the winner in the 83rd minute. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides.

Team News & Tactics

Rayo Vallecano

Andoni Iraola has greeted positive updates on the team news front ahead of the visit of Real Madrid. On Monday, the Rayo Vallecano manager will be bereft of the services of three first-team players.

The good news is that Randy Nteka and Oscar Trejo are available again after serving their respective suspensions. But Andres Martin (shoulder) and Jose Angel Pozo (knock) remain in the treatment room. In addition, Raul de Tomas is still unregistered and is unavailable to take on Real Madrid.

Iraola should line his side up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Stole Dimitrievski taking his place between the sticks. Florian Lejeune and Alejandro Catena should pair up at the heart of the Rayo Vallecano defence. Ivan Balliu and Fran Garcia will likely be the two full-backs, with the duo being responsible for providing width in the final third.

Santi Comesana and Oscar Valentin will likely form the double pivot in the middle of the park. The duo will look to keep things tight and restrict Real Madrid’s creative output. Trejo should be the most advanced midfielder for Rayo Vallecano, looking to find space through the Real Madrid defence.

Isi Palazon and Alvaro Garcia will likely be the two wide attackers, and the duo will often cut in to create overloads in the final third. Finally, Sergio Camello will spearhead the Rayo Vallecano attack against Real Madrid on Monday.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Dimitrievski; Balliu, Lejeune, Catena, Fran Garcia; Comesana, Valentin; Palazon, Trejo, Alvaro Garcia; Camello

Real Madrid

Unlike his counterpart in the Rayo Vallecano dugout, Carlo Ancelotti has a few new concerns ahead of the trip to Estadio de Vallecas. The Real Madrid manager will be without three first-team players due to injuries or suspension.

Toni Kroos is suspended after seeing red for the first time in his career last weekend. In addition, Karim Benzema (muscle injury) and Antonio Rudiger (hip) will miss out against Rayo Vallecano due to minor issues.

Rodrygo Goes should thus continue to spearhead the Real Madrid attack against Rayo Vallecano. And Marco Asensio should get a chance to impress after an excellent performance against Celtic in the UEFA Champions League. Vinicius Junior will complete the offensive unit for the visitors.

Luka Modric might have earned some rest this weekend. So Eduardo Camavinga will likely join Aurelien Tchouameni and Federico Valverde in the middle of the park. Modric and Dani Ceballos will thus be options on the bench.

In Rudiger’s absence, Eder Militao and David Alaba should pick themselves at the heart of the Real Madrid defence. Dani Carvajal and Ferland Mendy will likely line up as the two full-backs, with Thibaut Courtois taking his place between the sticks.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Alaba, Mendy; Valverde, Tchouameni, Camavinga; Asensio, Rodrygo, Vinicius

Key Stats

  • Rayo Vallecano have lost 19 of their last 20 games against Real Madrid in La Liga, winning only in April 2019 under Paco Jemez (1-0). Los Franjirrojos have faced defeat in 73.7% of their home games against Real Madrid in La Liga (14/19), the third highest loss percentage at home for a team against an opponent in the competition with at least 15 meetings (80% Hercules and 76.5% Alaves, both also vs Real Madrid).
  • Rayo Vallecano have won their last two league games and will have the chance to win three in a row in La Liga for the second time under Andoni Iraola (three wins in September 2021).
  • Real Madrid have kept only two clean sheets in their 12 games in La Liga 2022/23 (W10 D2), their lowest tally at this stage of the season since 2013/14, also under Carlo Ancelotti (W9 D1 L2).
  • Real Madrid have scored nine goals from outside the box in LaLiga 2022/23, equalling the highest tally for a team after their first 12 matches in a season in the top-flight since 2003/04 (FC Barcelona in 2012/13).
  • Vinicius Junior has been involved in 39 shot-ending carries in La Liga in 2022/23 (19 shots and 11 chances created), more than any other player in the Big Five European Leagues this season.

Player to Watch

Marco Asensio

Embed from Getty Images

Vinicius Junior, Federico Valverde, and Rodrygo Goes are usually under the spotlight when they take the field for Real Madrid. But there is another player who deserves to feature in this section for the next game. That player is Marco Asensio.

The Spanish international has endured a difficult 2022/23 campaign, with Carlo Ancelotti not utilising him regularly. But Asensio was top-notch against Celtic and ran the show for Real Madrid. The 26-year-old now has the chance to nail down his spot for Los Blancos heading into the second half of the season. And another brilliant showing will help him make headway.


Rayo Vallecano 0-2 Real Madrid

Rayo Vallecano will not be pushovers after starting another season brightly. Real Madrid will thus have to be patient, and Carlo Ancelotti’s men will need to bide their time on Monday. But the visitors have enough quality to rake in three points from the game.

Marco Asensio might rise to the occasion again, while Vinicius Junior and Federico Valverde usually produce the goods. In the end, the scoreline might appear comfortable for Real Madrid. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-0 win for Ancelotti and his charges.

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