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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.


Today's post features more about Rayo Majadahonda, and the rise of Genk's Alejandro Pozuelo.



11 minutes. 

11 minutes decided the fate of three teams, who had competed over the entire season with ferocity and were all set for a nail-biting finish.

In third, fourth, and fifth, heading into the final game of the season, Fuenlabrada, Rayo Majadahonda and Leioa were all on 60 points. The head-to-head records of the teams were pretty clear - Fuenlabrada would win any hypothetical matchup, and Rayo would win in a matchup against Leioa.

Entering the 78th minute, Leioa were 2-0 down at Arenas, Rayo were 1-0 down at Barakaldo, and Fuenlabrada were winning 2-0 at already relegated Sestao River.

Then all hell broke lose.

Arenas scored in the 78th minute. Almost in unison, Leioa scored in the next minute, but so did Rayo - which meant Leioa had to win. In the 81st minute, Leioa scored and then four minutes later Leioa scored again.

But it wasn't over. Aitor Córdoba was sent off, exposing the Leioa back line, and Arenas' Nacho Pérez scored to kill all hopes of a comeback.

Leioa had gone from narrowly avoiding the relegation playoffs in the 2014-15 season on the last day, to narrowly avoiding relegation on the last day at the expense of Gualadajara in the 2015-16 season, to narrowly missing out on promotion in the next.

Leioa's only three seasons in the Segunda B have been eventful to say the least.



Nearly two months ago, I wrote a piece entitled "Rejuvenating careers - Paco Jémez's success list" (you can read it here). 

But there's two sides to every coin. There's the player who come to Rayo and expect to get the opportunity to succeed. And then there are those who come to Rayo, show flashes of brilliance but leave without anyone batting an eyelid.


In fact, there are players who don't really make it at Rayo but become well renowned elsewhere. 


A year after Swansea signed an attacking midfielder from a club in Madrid for a bargain, Swansea signed an attacking midfielder from a club in Seville for a bargain. Alejandro Pozuelo was signed from Real Betis for a bargain £425,000, after he slipped out of favor at Betis after a row over a clause in his contract. His former club believed he had triggered an extension, but the player disagreed and said he was free to leave. Previous interest by Manchester United and Barcelona didn't resurface, and Swansea swooped in.

However, he fell out of favor once Laudrup had been sacked, and he subsequently joined Rayo in 2014, where he failed to inspire, and subsequently joined Genk in 2015.

Regular playing time, combined with the confidence of a team built around him, has seen him shine. He's back on the market, and this time it's Dortmund and Bayern who are interested in him.

He was solid but unspectacular. His ability in terms of dribbling and passing were unquestionable, but he really didn't fit the Rayo no. 10 mold - a second striker essentially.

The one game where he showed his magic was against Valencia in the Copa del Rey, when he scored Rayo's second - talking the ball down with one touch, swiveling and strucking the ball with such precision that Yoel had no chance (watch it here). He then provided an assist for Jonathan Pereira which was ruled out for offside, and played a part in the buildup to Rayo's fourth.

If you remember the 2014-15 season, you probably remember Alberto Bueno scoring four goals in 14 minutes to overturn a 1-0 deficit to 4-1.

What you don't remember is that Pozuelo substituted him so that Bueno could get a standing ovation, and that Pozuelo cheaply lost the ball for Levante to score a second.

That was the end of Pozuelo at Rayo - he would go on to play just 118 minutes more in a Rayo shirt.




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