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Trashorras. Córdoba. And Pablo Íñiguez (31st May, 2017)

Pop quiz: in the 2013-14 season, who completed more passes than Xavi, with 2,936 passes (2,537 good) to 2,587 (2,406)?

In the 2014-15 season, who completed more passes than Toni Kroos, with 2,566 passes (2,213 good) to 2,353 (2,170)? 

In the 2015-16 season, who completed more passes than Toni Kroos, with 2,693 passes (2,351 good) to 2,425 (2,277)?

Trashorras. Duh.

The Rayo midfield linchpin has done it again - for the fourth consecutive season, he is on course to become the player with the most passes in the league he plays in.

PlayerTeamTotal PassesShort PassesLong PassesThrough BallsTrashorrasRayo2,1791,8723034Fernando SeoaneLugo2,1751.9402341FolchReus2,0551,7762781ZapaterZaragoza1,9981,7282655Carlos PitaLugo1,8441,5393023
Stats as per the 39th jornada i.e. before the Zaragoza game - Trashorras was suspended anyways!

Also, considering the Seoane has played 545 minutes more than Trashorras, that is pretty impressive. In fact, Trashorras makes 0.83 passes per minute (2,637 minutes) compare…

Raúl Baena. End of the women's team? And true Rayistas - part 5 (30th May, 2017)

One of my first ever posts was about Raúl Baena and his important to Rayo. (You can read it here).

This week, Baena, who is out of contract this summer, was linked to Alcorcón. The team is short of midfielders, since Víctor Pérez and Bakic will be returning to Valladolid and Sporting Braga respectively.

Pep Guardiola was revered by Barcelona fans because he achieved something believed to be impossible - winning trophies consistently whilst playing beautiful, attacking football.

But beauty is subjective - and it isn't just of one type.

It's hard to justify how a tough-tackling, yellow-card accumulating player who barely ever scores or assists goals can be described as beautiful. It's hard to see the importance of a player like that in a system that rewards passing and movement.

But there is something beautiful, something heroic, something almost poetic, about a La Masia youth graduate, his hair flying in the air, his eyes determined, his brow tensed, his speed, stamina and s…

Match Review: Real Zaragoza 1-1 Rayo Vallecano. And happy birthday! (29th May, 2017)

There are two kinds of people in the world.

If you give both a task to do in 12 hours, one of them will carefully calculate how much work needs to be done in each hour, and calmly finish it before the deadline.

The other will binge watch half a season of their favorite TV show they haven't seen for the fourth time, and then all hell breaks loose in the last hour - a frantic, hectic, enjoyable-to-watch mess.

Given that Roberto Trashorras was suspended - you knew that all the calm, careful calculations of the Galician were gone.

You knew all hell was going to break loose.

Rayo attacked loads and defended loads. Fran Beltrán and Jordi Gómez dribbled and ran with the ball, Patrick Ebert went on long mazy runs with the ball on the left. Embarba made excellent runs on the right - even hitting the post from an Ebert cross.

But Rayo were overrun in the center of the park. Time and time again, Zaragoza players waltzed past Rayo defenders. Time and time again, Manuel Lanzarote absolutely destro…

Fran Beltrán. The best Basque striker. And the best Mirandés player (28th May, 2017)

A player who we all love at the club. Fran has more maturity than his age says


-Paco Jémez, in 2015
I was wrong.

Fran Beltrán has been linked with Barcelona many times. His talent is unquestionable and his desire to make it at Rayo undeniable.

But his desire to stay at Rayo was always in doubt. Despite signing a new contract that kept him at the club till 2020, a eight million euro release clause seemed like the board were looking to make a quick buck.

It's important to know his history - at the tender age of 16, Fran made his Rayo B debut against CD San Fernando in December 2015. A tireless midfielder with excellent technique and ball-winning capabilities, he has also been called up for the U-17 Spanish national football team, and regularly plays for the first team.

But in an interview with Marca this week, Fran said this:

"I was clear that if another team came, Madrid or Barça, I wanted to stay here. I can not think of a better place than Rayo"

Obviously, words are just …

100 day anniversary! More on the other Rayo. And Leioa. And careers thriving outside Rayo (27th May, 2017)

Yesterday, on the 26th of May, 2017, was the 100-day-anniversary of this blog.

Over three months ago, I started a daily blog on Rayo Vallecano (my favorite team) and Spanish football in general. After months of doing nothing I decided to get off my arse and do something.

Thank God I did.

Since then, I have published 122 blog posts in 100 days, including a 19 day project called Hinchas y Jugadores where I interview 45 fans, footballers, coaches and staff who share this crazy bond with something as silly as a game where 22 people kick a ball around.

I look forward to sharing the progress I make in the next 100 days.

Over three months ago, I started a daily blog on #Rayo Vallecano (my favorite team) and Spanish football in general. After months of doing nothing I decided to get off my arse and do something. Thank God I did. Since then, I have published 122 blog posts in 100 days, including a 19 day project called Hinchas y Jugadores where I interview 45 fans, footballers, coaches and staf…

Movilla and the other Rayo. Munir and how a tweet got him to Barcelona (26th May, 2017)

Ahead of the Zaragoza-Rayo game, I wanted to write a piece dedicated to José María Movilla, "the terrier".

But how do I start?

He was the player who Trashorras succeeded. José María Movilla was once a bin man and then a union man throughout his playing career. He too was from Real Madrid's youth system. He helped Numancia reach the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey while they were still in the Segunda B, and even helped level the tie against Barcelona with a 89th minute goal (2-2, 5-3 loss on aggregate). He took Málaga from the Segunda B to La Liga in back-to-back seasons. He helped Atlético Madrid return to La Liga, won the Copa del Rey and avoided relegation with Real Zaragoza,

Not to mention a top flight return for Rayo Vallecano.

He is currently the sporting director of Rayo Majadahonda.


"I was doing coaching practice with Iriondo, there was a vacancy and my name was proposed. That attractive style of Rayo - we have it here too!" 

-Movilla
If you're an At…

Manucho - the supersub. And RIP Yanko Daučík (25th May, 2017)

Last week, the striker who promised Valladolid he'd score 40 goals and actually scored five, the striker who became friends with fellow lusophone Diego Costa, the striker who has played in Turkey and England, Greece and Spain, and who took four seasons to reach 97 league appearances at Valladolid reached 100 league appearances at Rayo in three.

It's interesting to think that Manucho started out as a left-winger - and a pretty good one at that - in his native Angola. Nowadays, he revels in the super sub role, coming on in the last 10 or 20 minutes as Rayo's plan B.

He isn't quick by any means, but he brings direct play, a powerful header and a central focal point to the attack. And hard work - lots of it.

Out of the 100 league games, Manucho has started in just 31 (of which he has completed the full 90 minutes in 27). That's right - Manucho has had 69 substitute appearances. And while 14 goals in that time sounds measly, those 100 league games total a mere 4213 min…

Behind the incredible Hulk kits - the sad story of Atlético Astorga. And more 2000. (24th May, 2017)

Sarthak (@Vallecanos1924) puts it succinctly.
The Old Boys' network in the RFEF is still alive & kicking.
The gravy train rolls on. pic.twitter.com/Fk89zocbf5 — Barça Women (@BarcaWomen) May 23, 2017
Exactly.


Behind the incredible Hulk kits is a story that shows weakness - weakness of the argument for why the Segunda B should even exist.

In March 2016, Atlético Astorga couldn't survive in the Segunda B. It ran a 30,000 euro deficit. It needed 70,000 euros more to survive. Just think about that - a club formed in 1969 had spent just two years in the Segunda B and was struggling to function.

The team from Astorga did the unthinkable - they reached across to Ponferrada, 64 kilometers away, to their fiercest rivals, and became their B team.

The situation was so dire that Sagrario González, president of the board, defended it as the "the only solution" to be able to compete in the Segunda B - and this was after Ponferradina had loaned them five players in the wint…

Job security in professional football and the Segunda B. And politics. (23rd May, 2017)

A lot of what goes missing in football analysis is the fact that being a professional football is an actual job. Many who enter the profession think about the food they put on the table for their families. They think about the future since the job only pays well till the early thirties. They think about bigger and better clubs offering bigger and better opportunities. They think, constantly, about the next step in their careers.

Understandably though, most fans don't see a player playing for their club as a job - as an honor, or as a responsibility, but certainly not as a job.

One way professional football is harder, aside from the competition of course, is job security. One-year contracts are the norm for most teams. That, along with miserly termination clauses and relegation clauses that cut wages significantly means that Spanish football, and indeed football in many second tiers in the world, produce numerous journeymen who bounce around from club to club, with no clue whatsoe…

The unwanted signings of 2000. And "Matagigantes". (22nd May, 2017)

"It was an agreement between clubs. What happened was that I did not want to leave, I was very comfortable at Rayo; we were going to play in Europe and I wanted to stay in Vallecas. I identified with the club and I felt important inside. But they had already reached an agreement and I had to leave; The truth is that it was the saddest moment I had while at Rayo. "


-Carlos Llorens
It was a painful year for Atlético Madrid. The second top goalscorer in the league, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, belonged to the team second from bottom. Ranieri was dismissed after matchday 26 with the club in administration due to accumulated debts, Antić took over a squad that was already in a tailspin, sitting in 17th league spot and barely hovering above relegation zone.

The team fell into the relegation zone and never came back, they were eliminated from the UEFA Cup in the quarterfinals by Lens, and Antić was fired after matchday 37 after Atlético was already mathematically relegated - the team ac…

Rayo 2-0 Gimnàstic. And why I support Rayo Vallekano. (21st May. 2017)

I get it now.

I get why I support Rayo. Watching the game against Gimnàstic, I realized why my heart belongs to a working-class district in Madrid I've never been to, to a club that smears its own fans and a side that should be competing against Barcelona and Real Madrid but instead plays Reus Deportiu and Mirandés*.

It wasn't the 2-0 win. Or the incessant wave of attack after attack. Or the intricate passing patterns breaking down a resolute defense.

It wasn't Roberto Trashorras, who had one of his best games in a Rayo shirt and created chance after chance. Or Ernesto Galán, who kept Nàstic's entire left side silent. Or Adrián Embarba, who exposed right back Gerard Valentín's foraying runs forward** with pace and trickery. Or Fran Beltrán, who defended with heart and attacked with skill. Or Antonio Amaya, who calmly kept and distributed the ball. Or even Míchel and his calm demeanor.

It's because there is a fight that Rayo fans are fighting and they're lo…

The Hinchas y Jugadores project - A look back (20th May, 2017)

"Thanks for having this interest for lower teams in Spain. That is something that even in my country we lack as everyone cares about Real Madrid and Barcelona but don't see the local and amateur football dying year after year."


-Juan Manuel Serrano
"Thanks for contacting me...[projects like these] make the world of football grow!"
-Xavi Pérez Ureña

For the last 19 days, I published 45 interviews by fans, writers, players and coaches. I wasn't expecting to have so many wonderful people respond to me, and I thank them for their time and cooperation, as well as for answering so many questions!

I'm going to be honest here - I certainly wasn't expecting to interview an ex-Barcelona player - let alone two of them. I wasn't expecting to interview a footballer with three consecutive league titles. Or the assistant technical director of Rayo Vallecano. Or an Ipswich legend. Or the nephew of Juan Sabas. Or Mikel Alonso - again.

I also wasn't expecting to…

Hinchas y Jugadores - Huesca with Jaime Cajal Omella (19th May, 2017)

Follow Jaime on Twitter here.

How long have you been a fan of Huesca and what made you support them in the first place?

I have been a follower of Huesca since I was very young. At the age of 5 or 6 we would go to the country with my friends. We used to get bored soon, and in the middle of the game we preferred to go out to the parking lot to play ourselves rather than watch the game. From then until now, with its highs and lows. It was not easy a few years ago to continue to Huesca. I remember watching TV to see how the team was or follow the re-transmissions of HIT Radio, the only medium that followed the team during the hardest years.

Given the transfer windows and the squad that was assembled at the start of the season, is Huesca where you want it to be?


The season of Huesca has been historical. No one at the beginning of the season could dream of something like that. Being fighting for the playoff at this stage of the season, against teams like Cádiz, Tenerife, Getafe or Oviedo is i…

Hinchas y Jugadores - Lugo with Melch (19th May, 2017)

Melch is a La Voz de Galicia contributor - he writes a weekly article about Lugo for them. Follow Melch on Twitter here

How long have you been a fan of Lugo and what made you support them in the first place?

I'm a Lugo native so I can proudly say that I've been supporter since I was a child. I am a member of the team since 1996. I am an elementary teacher but I am devoted to sports. I used to be an athlete until 23 and then a track and field coach. During the last 2 years I worked in Oklahoma city as a teacher so I can tell perfectly how hard is to watch games of your team with so many hours of delay. My weekends in the US were planned depending on the date Lugo could play. So this year I came back to my home city and I am living the experience of watching soccer again and I am enjoying this a lot!

Generally speaking people in Spain only support Madrid or Barcelona. I hate that - when you live in a small town you should be supporting your home town team!

Given the transfer win…

Hinchas y Jugadores - Tenerife with Druso Lopez (19th May, 2017)

Follow Druso on Twitter here.

A bit about yourself and your background

My name is Druso Lopez, I am a 20 year old International Football Business at UCFB in Wembley, so is not hard to guess that I am a huge football fan and I would like to develop a career within the sport industry. I know live in London but I moved to the UK when I was 15, to a small town in Lancashire called Fleetwood and that's how I become a Fleetwood town fan. Also I like Manchester City, I am a huge football fan and watch a lot of football every week; English, Spain, Italy... I don't mind as long as the game is good, but I've to admit I'm a Premier League fan, I'm aiming to visit every football ground in London before 2018!

How long have you been a fan of Tenerife and what made you support them in the first place?

I was born and raised in Tenerife capital Santa Cruz and my house was just a 10 minutes walk from the Stadium; my dad and my grandad as most of my families were huge Tenerife fans so …

Hinchas y Jugadores - An exclusive interview with Roger Riera (19th May, 2017)

When did you make the decision to pursue football and what motivated you to do so?

I started to play football when I was 4. I always liked football and I really enjoy playing football. That's the best motivation I have to play football.

How did it feel like progressing through the ranks of La Masia?

I started playing football at Gimnàstic Manresa, a football club from my hometown (Manresa). When I was 9 years old I moved to Barça and I spend there 9 seasons. It was like living a dream and every time I progressed a step up I felt amazing and proud.

What do you think La Masia does differently, apart from football philosophy, that sets it apart from other youth academies?

I think that in La Masia you can progress as a footballer, but what's most important, you progress as a person. Thanks to them I keep studying my Business Degree at the university and I think that everyone that has the luck to spend some time in La Masia becomes a better footballer but what's more important, a…

Hinchas y Jugadores - An exclusive interview with Xavi Pérez Ureña (19th May, 2017)

When did you make the decision to pursue football coaching and what motivated you to do so?

I’ve been playing all my live and I love this sport. When I was playing I realized that I liked to lead my team in the field, so when I finished my career as a player, I decided to lead teams from outside the field. It’s amazing!

What were the first thoughts in your mind when CF Pardinyes offered you a position as a General Manager in 2009?

I thought that it was the perfect chance to make a club just like I thought. I could change traditional methods, train coaches to get the whole club working in the same direction... but over time it wasn’t possible.

What were your responsibilities there and how would you describe your three year stint there?

I was responsible for the sports organization and I was in charge of 16 teams, with all their technical staffs, players, their families, their problems... a lot of work. This is why, nowadays, it’s very difficult to improve football because most clubs have…

Hinchas y Jugadores - Cádiz with Andrew (19th May, 2017)

Follow Andrew on Twitter here.

A bit about yourself and your background

My name is Andrew and I'm a school teacher from County Durham, England. I have a wife and two children.

How long have you been a fan of Cádiz and what made you support them in the first place?

I have supported Cádiz for 11 years. I decided to follow CF Cádiz because my wife and my children are from El Salvador and perhaps Cádiz' most famous player and certainly El Salvador's most celebrated, is Jorge Mágico González. I attended my first game at the Estadio Ramón de Carranza in 2006 and I was taken aback by the amazing atmosphere in the stadium and the friendly camaraderie of the supporters.

Given the transfer windows and the squad that was assembled at the start of the season, is Cádiz where you want it to be?

We're presently 5th so we're not too far off the promotion places but in our last three games we have been dropping points with draws when we perhaps should have won.

Of the signings made thi…

Hinchas y Jugadores - Real Valladolid with Roberto (18th May, 2017)

Follow Roberto on Twitter here.

If you're interested in finding out more about Valladolid, Roberto recommends:
@pucelafichajesThe main blog with all info, rumors.@RValladolid_Eng - for updates in English.Desmarque Valladolid (@desmarquePucela) is in his opinion the best journal out there.Valladolid-based journalists - @chusrodriguez and @jesus_pucela.A bit about yourself and your background

My name is Roberto, I’m 41 years old, and I’m from Valladolid, where I was born. I’m a teacher of English but I also work for a telecommunications company.

How long have you been a fan of Valladolid and what made you support them in the first place?

I think that the first memory should be like when I was 12. My father had a friend who knew Mariano Minguela, a legend in Real Valladolid. He gave me a signed little pennant with his picture in one side and the Real Valladolid badge in the other. I still keep it, and it’s one of my personal treasures. That made me a fan, and more than the titles or …