Juegos Mediterraneos, Spain

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Rayo Vallecano

  • Alejandro Gálvez 78'

Saul wary of Almeria backlash

Rayo Vallecano's Saul Niguez has underlined the importance of his side beating Almeria this weekend, given that the Andalusian side, bottom of the Primera Division and one place behind Rayo, are a direct rival.

The Madrid side have played five of last season's top six teams in their opening eight games and the 19-year-old attributed their poor start to the campaign to the fact they have had to play so many top clubs.

"Every game is vital for us because the three points are always worth the same, but it's true that we've played games against teams of a very high level and we've struggled a lot as a result," Saul told reporters.

"As they say, our season starts now, even though every game is important and we have to always give our all."

Rayo beat Real Sociedad 1-0 a fortnight ago, pulling off their first win in seven games, which took them three points above last-placed Almeria, who have not managed to win a single game all season.

However, Saul believes the Andalusian outfit's performances warrant a higher place in the table.

"We've watched several Almeria games and the fact that they are in last place doesn't reflect fairly on how they have been playing. They are working hard and the results aren't following, but they are on the right track and they are going to make things difficult for us," he said.

With the exception of Seba Fernandez and Jose Carlos, who are both suffering long-term injuries, Paco Jemez has a full squad to choose from for the trip to the south of Spain.

In his pre-match press conference, Almeria coach Francisco Javier Rodriguez highlighted the similarities between Jemez's side and his own.

"Like Almeria, they are a team that likes to take the initiative, or at least tries to, not because they are obliged to, but because both teams like to have the ball. Both teams have conceded a lot of goals, but you also have to look at the teams they have faced," he said.

"We've played Barcelona, Atletico and Villarreal, the three teams that have scored the most goals in the league. But this week we want to do a little better than Rayo."

He also admitted that the fact his side are still yet to taste victory means that beating Rayo was even more vital.

"There's more than three points at stake," he said.

"It's the ninth week of the season, we still haven't got a win and we have to finally get one this week, imagine what it's been like for us.

"We've been looking for a win since the first day of the season and we haven't got one, but we are very hopeful of winning and above all, we are convinced we will."

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