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The Rayo Report: Cádiz 0-0 Rayo - Curious Cádiz but a reasonable result (6th November, 2017)

This game's Rayo Report format is different simply because the game was, barring some fleeting chances, quite dull and marked by both teams being guarded.

Cádiz vs Rayo. Starting lineups.

Míchel made no changes from the side that drew 1-1 against Sporting Gijón. In contrast, Álvaro Cervera made three changes to the Cádiz lineup compared to the 2-1 loss to Betis in the Copa del Rey just four days before - goalkeeper Rubén Yáñez was replaced by Alberto Cifuentes, and wingers Dani Romera and Moha Traoré were replaced by Álvaro García and Salvi Sánchez respectively.

Before this game, Rayo Vallecano were undefeated in their last 4 matches, and Cádiz had failed to win any of their last 7 matches; however, the game started with Rayo Vallecano looking shaky defensively, and Rayo were terrible throughout the game at keeping possession.

Nevertheless, as the game progressed, both teams were cautious going forward and played to protect a point.

Rayo's system was similar to previous games. Cádiz, however, went for an approach that on paper was suicidal but worked well in practice. Most people would agree that when players work as a unified team then that team is difficult to break down. But what if the players worked as two teams?

Cádiz's system consisted of a block of six and a block of four. The front four pressed and harried Rayo's back four while the back six sat deep. It was very unusual to watch but interesting to observe and analyze.

This system worked extremely well. Firstly, it exposed Rayo's defense in a way never seen before. In the 39th minute, recieveing a pass from Emiliano Velázquez, Dorado took way too much time on the ball, Barral took the ball off him. However, one-on-one, the striker took one too many touches and Emiliano Velázquez took the ball off him with a superb standing tackle. In the 44th minute Alberto was forced to riskily come out of his area and clear a terrible back pass. And in the 49th minute Cádiz really should have scored - Álex Fernández pressed Fran Beltrán and passed the ball to Alberto Perea, who in turn played Álvaro García behind the Rayo defense. Álvaro García even rounded the keeper successfully but fluffed the shot.

But it also meant that Rayo's attack had their supply cut off - Rayo did not have a single shot on target the entire game. It was so effective that the only player with the power to create anything was Unai López - and the fact that in the 4th minute he slipped whilst on the ball wasn't exactly confidence inspiring. To be fair, in the 17th minute, he played a lovely cross field ball to switch the play, a ball that eventually fell to Embarba, whose shot unfortunately was speculative at best.

Substitutions

Both managers were very hit and miss when it came to substitutions:

1) 32nd minute - Alberto Perea for Rafidine Abdullah

This was more out of necessity - Rafidine Abdullah was injured - but it was critical to Cádiz's defensive six that each player was physically dominant and hardworking. Álex Fernández was surprisingly good replacing a tank like Rafidine Abdullah, pressing intelligently and creating the best chance of the night in the 49th minute as said before.

Cádiz vs Rayo. 32nd minute.


2) 54th minute - Diego Aguirre for Raúl de Tomás

At this point, it was clear that Rayo's approach was not working. Nevertheless, this was a strange move - Rayo's best way to score wasn't going to come from dribbling through the center, and Raúl de Tomás being taken off for Diego Aguirre meant that Óscar Trejo would have to create magic to score. What actually happened was that Trejo found himself with no space, and frequently switched positions with Santi Comesaña.

3) 63rd minute - José Ángel Carrillo for David Barral

This was a like for like swap - Barral worked tirelessly but had clearly left his shooting boots in the locker room. 6'3" Carrillo continued the good work of Barral in terms of pressing Dorado, and the 35-year-old had a torrid game.

Cádiz vs Rayo. 63rd minute.


4) 77th minute - Alejandro Domínguez for Fran Beltrán

This was, once again, due to injury. Rayo were much calmer in possession, but never created many chances and looked very vulnerable on the counter.

5) 84th minute - Manuel Galván for Salvi Sánchez was a like-for-like swap.

Cádiz vs Rayo. 84th minute.


Conclusion

Both teams were poor in their own right and were clearly playing cautiously throughout the game.

Cádiz's game plan, however, was interesting, if unusual. It succeeded in getting a point and exploiting Rayo's defensive frailties, and could even have nicked a 1-0 victory.

If anyone deserved to win this game, it was Cádiz.

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