Rayo Vallecano have not played the role of the traditional minnow since their return to top flight football last season.
Completely penniless, they built a squad of outcasts, have-nots and never-weres and one could have easily forgiven them for trying to build a compact unit that would be more difficult to break down, especially on their home turf of the slightly agricultural Vallecas stadium.
Instead this rag-tag group of misfits, with more in common with their working-class fans than their fellow professionals, wowed us with a surprising adventurous streak, showing no fear to anyone as they constantly pressed for goals.
This method of play inevitably led to a few heavy defeats, with Barcelona scoring 11 times without reply in their two fixtures, while Malaga, Valencia, Real Madrid, Sevilla, Espanyol and Real Sociedad all managed to score four or more goals against them over the duration of the season.
But they were also rewarded for their adventurous nature, as they managed four or more goals against Real Sociedad (not the same game), Racing Santander, Levante and Osasuna, making them the most exciting team to watch in La Primera.
In the end, relegation was only avoided due to a last minute goal from Raul Tamudo against Granada on the final day of the season, sparking jubilant scenes in the poorer part of Madrid as Villarreal were demoted in their stead.
So on to a summer where that squad was completely dismantled, with key players like Raul Tamudo (Mexico), Diego Costa (returned to Atletico) and Michu (Swansea) all exiting the club, leaving them wondering where their goals were going to come from this season.
Coach Jose Ramon Sandoval also departed, with Paco Jemez taking over, sparking beliefs that the new boss would resort to a more disciplined approach in order to avoid the last minute dash they required to stay in the division.
The likes of Leo Baptistao and Nickie Billie Nielsen have been drafted in on free transfers, while more fringe players like Andrija Delibasic and Lass Bangoura have been given more prominent roles in the first team this season.
And fortunately for the neutrals at least, if not the home fans, Rayo have stuck to their philosophy of pure attacking football, playing without any fear.
They were rewarded with two consecutive victories to start the season, with an impressive away victory at Real Betis standing out against a team that had made some clever signings over the summer.
A rare goalless draw with Sevilla followed before an Atletico game that encompassed both potential sides to Rayo’s style of play.
Atletico were afforded all the space they needed to exploit an exposed defence and raced into a four-goal lead, as the downside of Rayo’s all-out attack policy was displayed to the world.
They could have shut up shop, accepted the game was away from them and tried to avoid complete humiliation against their city rivals, but that is not the Rayo way, as instead they took off a defender, threw on an extra forward and were rewarded with three goals in the final ten minutes, leaving Atletico desperately clinging on to their victory.
How many other sides would have accomplished this? How many other sides would not have given up at 4-0 down after 80 minutes?
Against Real Madrid, the same approach existed, despite the massive difference in calibre between these mainly Segunda level players and their multi-million Euro counterparts.
Despite going a goal down early on, Rayo piled men forward to find an equaliser, never intimidated by their more illustrious rivals. Eventually they were made to pay as Real added a second, and could have had plenty more were it not for a failure to exploit Rayo’s high defensive line without triggering the lineman’s flag, or Cristiano Ronaldo’s comical miss with the goal gaping.
Again Rayo switched to three at the back, ignoring Real’s vast attacking threats, ending the game with five players on the pitch that are recognised as centre forwards, making the game uncomfortable for Real at the very least.
So how will this end up finishing for Rayo? Is this their key weapon that will keep them afloat come the conclusion of the season, or will it be the cause of their demise?
Some will point out that Rayo do not have the players defensively to play a containment game, and that any switch to a more defensive style of play will only result in a string of defeats.
So all-out attack is all they have and any display of fear will expose them as the lower-level players they realistically are.
On the other hand, such reckless endeavour going forward leaves that weak defence exposed to the bright attacking talents that La Liga possesses, and heavy defeats will soon follow.
Despite goal difference not counting until after head-to-head records have been taken into account, such heavy defeats to other expected strugglers could be the difference between their survival and their relegation.
It’s going to be a long wait to see whether Rayo will benefit from or suffer for their attacking policy. All I can promise is that it will be one hell of a ride.
Tags: La Liga, Rayo Vallecano