2019/20 in Pictures: Games 19 and 20

It’s a Vallecas double-header over the holiday weekend here in Madrid!

Game 1️⃣9️⃣

I wasn’t planning to go to this game, but given that my new working hours allow me to go to Friday night matches, combined with more reasonable ticket prices for Rayo in the Segunda drew me in.

I was also interested in the chance to finally see a match at the Estadio de Vallecas from the famous fondo. Usually tickets for there are like gold dust, but with fan unrest against club president Raul Martin Presa at an all-time high, many regulars had chosen to boycott the game and those who did turn up mostly added their voices to the regular chants of “¡Presa vete ya!” which resonated around the ground throughout the game.

The already-subdued atmosphere took another blow when Tenerife opened the scoring, Luis Milla sweeping home a neat finish after a swift counter-attack, giving Rayo’s debutant goalkeeper Morro no chance. The young goalkeeper was thrown in at the deep end due to a combination of injuries and international call-ups but despite a few nervous moments (a lot of them caused by Rayo’s slightly haphazard playing style) acquitted himself well over the 90 minutes.

Rayo weren’t behind for too long as defender Alejandro Catena levelled matters on 31 minutes with a towering header from Adrián Embarba’s free kick. The strangest thing about this goal was the extreme delay in playing traditional Rayo goal anthem The Final Countdown, perhaps due to a VAR check on a potential offside, or possibly because the person running the sound desk had momentarily nodded off or forgot which button it was. Anyway, after a minute or so everyone was able to happily jump p and down to Europe’s 80’s classic in celebration.

A word in praise of Embarba, the Rayo captain has been their outstanding player in the two games I’ve watched this season with his brilliant set piece deliveries and almost scored himself before the break, his free kick clipping the crossbar before bouncing to safety.

The hosts got stronger as the game went on, Bebé and Oscar Trejo both having chances to put them in front, but the goal they had been threatening finally came after 70 minutes. Almost inevitably, it was another Embarba delivery into the box that created it, Tenerife goalkeeper Adrián Ortolá came for it but never looked like getting there and the other Rayo centre back Esteban Saveljich was on hand to head the ball home. This time there was no delay with The Final Countdown.

Rayo were never really in trouble after that, but you just never know… After conceding a 95th minute penalty in the game I saw at Fuenlabrada, they then conceded a 97th minute equaliser against Alcorcón a few days later. Happily this time there were no late mishaps and Paco Jemez was able to celebrate a vital win after five consecutive draws in the league.

Match Cost: €15 💶

Match Rating: 7/10

Game 2️⃣0️⃣

From one of my most frequently-visited grounds in Madrid to a brand new one! The Campo Nuestra Señora de la Torre is located just a short walk from Villa de Vallecas Metro and just across the road from Rayo’s Ciudad Deportiva (which I visited last season) and made for a pleasant location for some Sunday afternoon Fútbol Modesto.

Vallecas CF once played in the Tercera Division, but the last few years have been hard on them, this season they are playing in the Segunda Regional – the seventh tier of the Spanish football pyramid.

It’s unlikely that any of the players on display here will reach the kind of level I saw at the Estadio de Vallecas on Friday night, but they did serve up a reasonably entertaining encounter. The visitors were unlucky, losing two players to injury inside a couple of first half minutes and did have the best chance of the opening period, a speculative shot from distance which beat the Vallecas goalkeeper but unbelievably managed to clip both posts on the way to bouncing clear.

Vallecas got better as the game wore on and probably did deserve their victory, secured by a 70th minute goal.

But really the football played second fiddle to the social aspect of #DíaDelFútbolModesto2. It was great to see some old friends and meet some new ones while sharing in our common passion for football. Already looking forward to the next one in November!

Match Cost: Free! 💶

Match Rating: 6/10

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