Preview: Rayo Vallecano vs. Almeria - prediction, team news, lineups
Source: Sportsmole

Sports Mole previews Sunday's La Liga clash between Rayo Vallecano and Almeria, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Rayo Vallecano will be looking to take a huge step towards securing their La Liga status for another season when they welcome already-relegated Almeria to the capital on Sunday night.

The home side are 15th in the table, eight points clear of the relegation zone, while Almeria are rock bottom on 14 points, with their demotion being confirmed last Saturday when they lost to Getafe.

Match preview Rayo Vallecano's Alvaro Garcia celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on January 31, 2024 Reuters

Rayo brought a four-game unbeaten run into their clash with Villarreal last weekend, but they suffered a 3-0 loss to the Yellow Submarine, with the result leaving them in 15th in the table on 34 points.

The capital outfit are eight points ahead of 18th-placed Cadiz, so it is very difficult to imagine them being pulled into trouble at this stage of the season, but it is not impossible.

Rayo have finished 12th and 11th in their two La Liga campaigns since earning promotion back to the top flight through the 2020-21 Segunda Division playoffs.

Inigo Perez's side have performed below expectations this season, and finding the back of the net has been a real issue, only managing 27 goals in their 33 matches.

Almeria have actually scored more times (32) than Rayo this term, but the basement side have the worst defensive record in the division with 67 conceded, while Rayo have only shipped 42.

Los Franjirrojos have the second-worst home record in the division this season, though, only picking up 17 points from their 16 matches, recording just three wins in the process.

There is no getting away from the fact that it has been a hugely difficult campaign for Almeria, with a record of one win, 11 draws and 21 defeats from 33 games leaving them at the bottom of the table on 14 points.

La Union's relegation was officially confirmed last weekend when they lost 3-1 at home to Getafe, and Pepe Mel's team are therefore only playing for pride in the final stages of the campaign.

UDA finished 17th in La Liga last season on their return to the top flight, but they struggled to get out of the Segunda Division following their last relegation from La Liga in 2014-15, which will be a concern heading into the 2024-25 campaign.

A squad full of talent has underperformed this term, though, and while there will be wholesale changes this summer, Almeria will still be confident of being one of the strongest sides in the second tier next season.

La Union have lost their last two league games against Rayo, including a 2-0 defeat in the reverse fixture earlier this season, while they lost 2-0 in the corresponding contest during the 2022-23 campaign.

Rayo Vallecano La Liga form:

Almeria La Liga form:

Team News Rayo Vallecano's Unai Lopez celebrates scoring their first goal on November 25, 2023 Reuters

Rayo will be without the services of three players through injury this weekend, with Kike Perez, Aridane Hernandez and Diego Mendez unavailable for selection.

The hosts will also have to work around the absence of Pathe Ciss, as the midfielder is suspended due to the milestone yellow card that he picked up in the defeat to Villarreal last weekend.

Head coach Perez is expected to resist the temptation to shuffle his pack despite the disappointment of the three-goal loss to the Yellow Submarine, but Oscar Valentin is set to come into the XI, while Alvaro Garcia could also replace Unai Lopez in the starting side.

As for Almeria, Luis Suarez and Aleksandar Radovanovic are out of the match due to injury, while Jonathan Viera, Gonzalo Melero, Largie Ramazani and Lucas Robertone are all suspended.

Ramazani will not be available until the final match of the season, while Viera, who was sent off against Getafe last time out, will sit this game out alongside Melero and Robertone.

Edgar Gonzalez and Sergio Arribas are both expected to come into the XI on Sunday night, but Anthony Lozano should continue as the centre-forward, with Leo Baptistao again likely to operate out wide.

Rayo Vallecano possible starting lineup:Dimitrievski; Ratiu, Mumin, Lejeune, Chavarria; Valentin, Crespo; Palazon, A Garcia, De Frutos; Camello

Almeria possible starting lineup:Maximiano; Pubill, Montes, Chumi, Langa; E Gonzalez, Lopy; Baptistao, Arribas, Embarba; Lozano

We say: Rayo Vallecano 1-0 Almeria We are not expecting this to be a classic, but it is vital that Rayo secure all three points. Almeria have been a very difficult team to back all season, and we are finding it tough again here, ultimately settling on a narrow success for the hosts on Sunday night.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.