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Rayo Vallecano will be looking to make use of home advantage when they take on Real Betis in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final on Wednesday night.
The two sides will meet at Estadio de Vallecas for the first match this week before the second leg of the fascinating last-four affair takes place in Seville on March 3.
Rayo Vallecano coach Andoni Iraola reacts on January 2, 2022© Reuters
Rayo have had to win five matches to reach this stage of the competition, overcoming Guijuelo, Bergantinos, Mirandes and Girona before beating Mallorca in the quarter-finals earlier this month.
Los Franjirrojos have never won the Copa del Rey, while they have reached the semi-finals of the competition for the first time since the 1981-82 campaign, which is an indication of their achievement.
Rayo were only promoted back to La Liga for the 2021-22 campaign via last season’s Segunda Division playoffs, but they have had no trouble competing back at this level, picking up 31 points from 22 matches to sit ninth in the table, just five points behind fifth-placed Atletico Madrid.
The capital outfit are without a win in the league since December 18, though, picking up just one point from their last four matches, including two straight defeats against Athletic Bilbao and Celta Vigo.
Andoni Iraola’s side played out a 1-1 draw with Betis when the two sides locked horns in the league last month, while they beat the Seville outfit on penalties in the Copa del Rey third round back in January 2020.
Real Betis coach Manuel Pellegrini on December 9, 2021© Reuters
Betis, meanwhile, will enter this contest off the back of a 2-0 home defeat to Villarreal in La Liga, which ended a run of four straight victories in all competitions.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side are still enjoying an excellent campaign, though, sitting third in the table, two points clear of fourth-placed Barcelona, while they are also still in the Europa League.
Betis have impressed in this season’s Copa del Rey, scoring four times in back-to-back wins over CFI Alicante and Talavera before winning by three clear goals against Real Valladolid on January 5.
The Green and Whites then beat Sevilla 2-1 in the round of 16 before thrashing Real Sociedad 4-0 in the quarter-finals to secure their position in the final four of the competition.
Betis are two-time winners of the Copa del Rey, last lifting the trophy in 2005, while they were last present in the semi-finals in 2018-19, losing 3-2 to Valencia on aggregate.
Rayo Vallecano Copa del Rey form: