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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 actually had to bring in a new manager, Fernando Zambrano, for the last match. And even making the Copa del Rey final for the second consecutive season didn't paper over the cracks - Espanyol beat them to that trophy.

As many players left and Atlético struggled to assemble a squad, Fernando Zambrano, who had started his managerial career in Rayo's youth teams, brought in three players from the club.

Carlos Llorens, along with Iván Amaya and Jean-François Hernandez, dropped down a division.



If you're a fan of a small team in Spain, you know what it means to deem a team as "Matagigantes". The title is conferred upon a team in a competition that beats other theoretically superior teams repeatedly. A team that, despite its limited resources, is able to challenge the very best.

In the 1977-78 La Liga season, the team that was least likely to stand out did so and did so with aplomb. The team that was playing its inaugural season in La Liga was challenging the very best.

For four weeks, the table read "1st Real Madrid, 2nd Barcelona, 3rd Rayo Vallecano", and that too in the middle of the season.

Real Madrid came to Rayo and were beaten. So were Barcelona. And Athletic Club. And Valencia. And Sporting de Gijón. And Atlético de Madrid. The top 6 teams in the league all came to a small stadium in a village and were humbled by a humble club representing a humble, hardworking people.




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