Sevilla v Rayo Vallecano preview
Rayo Vallecano captain Michel is convinced his team can secure survival by beating Sevilla.
Last Updated: 04/05/12 11:04am
Rayo Vallecano captain Michel is convinced his team can guarantee their Primera Division status by beating Sevilla.
Rayo seemed certain to avoid the drop in February after winning three successive games, but they have lost eight of their last nine and now sit just three points above 18th-place Real Zaragoza with two games left.
Zaragoza have won their last two games and will draw level with Rayo if they beat bottom side Racing Santander and Jose Ramon Sandoval's team lose at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
Rayo still have the better head-to-head record against Zaragoza this season, which would prove decisive if the teams finish on level points, but Michel wants to end any uncertainty about his team's status by beating Sevilla on Saturday night.
"The team is very united and we must win at Sevilla," the midfielder said.
"We have to be optimistic. It's in our hands and we have to forget what has happened in the past.
"We have arrived at 40 points, we have two games left and we have to win one to survive. Our first final is this weekend against Sevilla, and then we have another against Granada the following weekend.
"On Wednesday the team were hurt (after Rayo's 1-0 defeat at Mallorca), and we were very low, but we have already charged our batteries and the whole group is mentally prepared to get a win."
Sevilla are still smarting from their shock derby defeat to Real Betis and have under-performed so far this term.
Los Nervionenses are 10th in the table and are now unlikely to qualify for Europe next year, but Michel has warned his team-mates they will not be in for an easy game tomorrow evening.
"Now they have problems there, but they are still one of the big clubs," he said.
"They're at home and they will want to end their season there on a high, especially after losing their derby."
Sevilla's derby defeat put further pressure on their under-fire manager Michel.
His team took the lead through Alvaro Negredo on Wednesday night, but a killer double from Benat Etxebarria - the last one in injury time - sealed the win for the green and white half of the Andalucian capital.
Michel admits the defeat hurt, but has called on the club's angry fans to have patience with his team and back them to victory against Rayo this weekend.
"This is a big club and it should have patience with its players," the Sevilla manager said.
"We are in no-man's land now. We have been punished and the defeat was hurtful to us, but we have to carry on and there's no better remedy than winning. On Saturday we host Rayo and after that we go to Espanyol."
The defeat to Betis means Sevilla are now six points behind Atletico Madrid, who hold the final qualification spot for the Europa League.
With Mallorca, Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna above them, Sevilla now expect to miss out on European qualification.
"It will be difficult to qualify for Europe," Sevilla president Jose Maria del Nido said.
"But the players are professionals and they have an obligation to fight for the six points that are left to play for."
Best bet: Rayo Vallecano (+1) - 21/20