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Dec 18, 2021 at 1pm UK
Rayo VallecanoRayo Vallecano
Guardiola (19'), Catena (26')
Trejo (10')
FT(HT: 2-0)

Duarte (24'), Tachi (70')

Preview: Rayo Vallecano vs. Alaves - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Rayo Vallecano vs. Alaves - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Saturday's La Liga clash between Rayo Vallecano and Alaves, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Rayo Vallecano have the opportunity to climb into the top four in La Liga this weekend, when they face 17th-placed Alaves at the Campo de Futbol de Vallecas.

Saturday's hosts are perhaps one of the surprise packages in Spain this season, as they currently sit in sixth spot having earned promotion from the second tier last year.

Match preview

Andoni Iraola's side progressed in the Copa Del Rey last time out, beating lower-league side Bergantinos 3-1 courtesy of goals from Mario Suarez, Pathe Ciss and Sergio Moreno.

That victory ensured Rayo Vallecano bounced back from defeat in La Liga on Sunday, when they travelled to face Villarreal, who beat Vallecano 2-0 despite the away side creating more chances on goal.

Rayo Vallecano's home form is the major reason why they are sitting no lower than sixth after 17 matches, having won seven and drawn one of their eight matches on their own patch in Madrid.

Their away form is quite the contrast, only winning once on the road, but their home record is the best in La Liga so far, also only conceding three goals in those eight matches so a clean sheet will be the aim on Saturday.

This weekend is the last game for Vallecano before Spain's winter break from football, and Iraola will be urging his side to enter that break having put themselves in a strong position to earn a European spot in the second half of the campaign.

Deportivo Alaves were not so fortunate in the Copa Del Rey this week, losing 2-1 against Linares Deportivo, who dominated the game against their top-tier opposition, recording more than double the amount of shots on target than Alaves.

Javier Calleja's side drew 1-1 with Getafe last Saturday in La Liga, which means that Alaves are now winless in four league matches, which has left them just two points above the relegation zone.

One of the issues Deportivo Alaves have encountered this season has come in front of goal, having only scored 13 times in 16 matches, the second-lowest tally in La Liga.

That stat has improved in their last eight matches, finding the back of the net at least once in each game no matter the result during that time, but with Rayo Vallecano's home defensive record the visitors may find it difficult to find a way past goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski.

Rayo Vallecano La Liga form:
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • L

Rayo Vallecano form (all competitions):
  • W
  • D
  • D
  • W
  • L
  • W

Alaves La Liga form:
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • L
  • D

Alaves form (all competitions):
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • L

Team News

Vallecano winger Martin Merquelanz has not featured for his side since the beginning of September, and he will be absent on Saturday but is nearing a return to action this month.

Iraola made 11 changes to his starting lineup for their cup game in midweek, meaning that he can revert back to his usual La Liga starting side who will be recovered from their last league outing on Sunday.

Sergi Guardiola will continue to lead the line for the hosts, and he will be keen to add to his tally of two goals so far in the league this season, with Isi Palazon and Alvaro Garcia aiming to provide chances from the wings.

Alaves centre-back Florian Lejeune is suspended for this clash, after receiving his second yellow card in the space of five minutes at the end of their draw with Getafe.

Ximo Navarro and Tomas Pina are both sidelined due to injury and will remain out this weekend, but the visitors are expected to name a similar 11 apart from the forced switch in the heart of the back four.

Luis Rioja, Joselu and Edgar Mendez will start as the front three for Alaves, with Joselu the away side's biggest source of goals this season having netted eight times.

Rayo Vallecano possible starting lineup:
Dimitrievski; Garcia, Catena, Saveljich, Balliu; Valentin, Lopez; Garcia, Trejo, Palazon; Guardiola

Alaves possible starting lineup:
Pacheco; Lopez, Rodriguez, Laguardia, Aguirregabiria; Moya, Ndiaye, Pons; Rioja, Joselu, Mendez

We say: Rayo Vallecano 2-0 Alaves

Rayo Vallecano are strong favourites to take three points from this clash, given their excellent home form this season including their strong defensive record on their own patch, which is why they are likely to keep a clean sheet.

The home side bounced back from league defeat in the Copa Del Rey but they now need to record three more points on the table as teams below them are not far behind pushing them out of the European places.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data

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