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‘The Tiger’ Falcao prefers big game hunting

BeSoccer Pro data shows Falcao has shone in the biggest games of the La Liga season.

‘The Tiger’ Falcao prefers big game hunting

Radamel Falcao returned to the Metropolitano for the second time. A different home for another reunion with a crowd (he featured there last season) he made in the old and now defunct Vicente Calderón happy. A stadium whose structure echoed on the banks of the Manzanares. Now, on Avenida Luis Aragonés, he went for the second time with another red and another white, more specifically, the ‘highlighter red’ that tints the stripe that crosses the white Rayo Vallecano shirt.

The reunion went on for longer than expected. The loss of Óscar Trejo due to injury opened a gap in Andoni Iraola’s eleven. The Basque manager decided to ‘reinvent’ his attack. The 10 slot went to Jose Pozo, somewhat lacking in opportunities after his loan last season, and at the point of attack, Radamel Falcao. The absence of captain Chocota ‘forced’ Iraola to ‘use up’ some of the minutes available to the Tiger at full capacity. Used to being an impact player and working against the clock, the striker from Santa Marta had the opportunity to hunt with a lot more time on his watch at the Metropolitano.

The Colombian was ambitious from the start with his shooting, which lacked precision due to the distance. Between warnings, the Tiger was Rayo’s best offensive weapon. His precision increased as the match went on and not only as a threat (he was the player who had the highest number of shots), but also inn terms of passing, completing 17 of the 19 he attempted. Those two failed tries at finding a teammate were his only two losses of the game.

Falcao in one of the many duels against Giménez.
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Falcao in one of the many duels against Giménez. JESUS ALVAREZ ORIHUEKADiarioAS

Neither age weighed on him nor did his physique fail him in the demanding duels with Savic and Gimenéz for 90 minutes. Both had to be attentive to the striker and this opened options for other good finishers like Pathe Ciss, who came close to rounding off a remarkable performance with a headed effort on goal.

Sergio Camello’s arrival onto the pitch in the 60th minute offered him better support than Pozo in the previous hour and between them they were close to finding the equaliser. The Atlético academy player assisted his support player, but he was not successful against Grbic. His lofted attempt fell too short. The only ‘but’ to a great performance. One that Rayo did not have to regret.

Giménez ended up committing a penalty for a handball and Falcao ‘bit’ from eleven meters to equalise against his old team. The Colombian completed a complete performance that earned him the man of the match awarded from LaLiga.

“He has given us oxygen, he has held up balls and he has done the dirty work. In the second half we were already much closer to the area, the chances and the balls came much closer. He was able to find them where he wanted. He had a very clear chance that we were almost celebrating and he didn’t manage to put it away, but then the penalty came and he didn’t miss it”, Iraola rightly summed up a match that, according to data from BeSoccer Pro, is already his second best performance with Los Franjirrojos.

Falcao's BeSoccer shot graphic this season.
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Falcao's BeSoccer shot graphic this season.BeSoccer Pro

Falcao went on until completing a game valued with a remarkably high, 8.8. This showed what he is capable of in 90 minutes and was only three tenths away from his best game: the 9.1 he achieved in his game against FC Barcelona in Vallecas. That day he featured for 76 minutes and scored the winning goal. Following a pass from Trejo, Falcao was one on one against Piqué, cut back, left the Catalan behind and shot inside Ter Stegen’s post. In that match he also won 31% of his duels and had a good success rate in terms of passing as well as being as accurate in scoring one of only two attempts he had.

Yesterday’s was a night in which Falcao, on top of everything, again put his coach in a delicate situation. In that match against Barcelona, the Colombian’s goal definitively sentenced Ronald Koeman and began Xavi’s stage at Barcelona, after Sergi Barjuan stepped in on an interim basis. Last night, Radamel ‘hurt’ an Atlético team led by Cholo Simeone who lives in a state of irregularity (he hasn’t won three games in a row) and about whom the doubts never end. When the victory appeared, Falcao revived all the questions.

The Colombian adds two games of brilliance against the greats in terms of both performance and result. He also scored against Real Madrid, but his goal only served to close the gap. The Tiger likes big game hunting as his goals indicate. Of the eight goals that he has on his tally at Rayo, six have been against teams that at the time of the match were in the top half of the table (Athletic on two occasions, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Real Sociedad and Atlético de Madrid). The calendar now points to several of his previous victims. Cádiz, the next team in line, suffered last season. Then Sevilla will arrive, a ‘big side’ in a low moment and on Monday, November 7, the leader and his old archenemy, Real Madrid.


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