Paco Jemez has proven himself to be an extremely dynamic individual. Rayo over the past two seasons have played decent football and have given youth a chance. This has been forced on the manager as investment into the club has not been forthcoming. Last season the side failed to improve on the 8th place attained in the 2012-2013 campaign but nonetheless still avoided being bogged down in a relegation dogfight.
Meanwhile Atletico shocked pretty much all the renown pundits of Spanish football by winning the league last season in dramatic fashion. However since then key players have departed, meaning that the well documented togetherness of the group has been jeopardised, if not totally destroyed. One sincerely hopes that Simeone can at least hold on to his favourite defender, Diego Godin. It’s understood that Bayern have lodged a bid which amounts to around £27,000,000. Yet he is worth much more than that in my view. Mangala cost £32,000,000 and he is largely unproven; Godin is a seasoned professional who rises to the big occasion as shown in the fixtures against Chelsea, Barcelona and Real Madrid last season. If he is to be sold, the chances of finding a world class replacement is minimal
As usual Rayo have brought in primarily free agents along with young starlets on loan. Kakuta and Javier Aquino are the most exciting of the many new faces that have recently arrived. Given the summer of change at the club, it really makes one wonder if the side can continue to be competitive like it has been in the last two seasons. Comparing the current squad with last season’s I notice no great improvement but the fact 10 new players now need to be integrated into the existing batch only adds to the challenge Jemez is faced with. For this reason one expects Atletico to win comfortably
It’s easy to write Simeone’s lions off in regards to defending their title, but I do empathise that they are lions, that’s to say they are fearless and cannot be tamed by “flair” sides. Last season neither Barcelona nor Real Madrid earned three points over them hence indicating just how mentally tough that Atletico side was.If they can keep that ferocity and resourcefulness intact then they can be in the mix again. With acquisitions such as Mandzukic and Griezmann there really is no reason to doubt that they’ll be a force in La Liga and the Champions league once more.
As far as the weekend goes, Atletico should have too much ammunition for Rayo but Simeone’s side did struggle against weaker sides last season owing to their preference of counter-attacking football. Obviously they’ll dominate possession against Rayo and therefore need the likes of Koke and Raul Garcia to nail a killer pass to Mandzukic. All in all I predict Atletico to win 3-1.