Match Preview: Alavés vs Real Madrid – 2021/22
And it begins. Real Madrid’s LaLiga campaign commences following a summer that weakened their squad and intensified tensions inside the club. With all that aside for now, football prevails and the opening day brings to our screens a clash at Alavés’ Mendizorroza stadium in the Basque region.
What to Expect:
Atlético Madrid made Los Blancos pay for their inconsistencies last season. Zinédine Zidane’s players were far from their best and were often exposed for their flaws even against teams of lower calibre. Carlo Ancelotti will hope that isn’t the case here. As he mentioned in yesterday’s press release, he does realise that this will be yet another extremely complicated season.
Under the Italian, Real Madrid want to play expressive football that is delightful on the eye. He hopes to bring the best out of players that aren’t delivering. Like taking the goalscoring burden off Karim Benzema or having a more responsible midfield personnel in contrast to last season where Luka Modrić and the now injured Toni Kroos were heavily relied upon.
Alavés, led by Javier Calleja, narrowly escaped relegation last season. Their football is perfectly diminutive and Calleja’s personality is quite the ruthless fit that matches it. Expect our opponents to defend, but not as deep or compact as they did previously. One, because it’s a brand new season and two, because they were beginning to play a lot more expressively towards the end of the last campaign.
Carlo Ancelotti’s available roster is far from the one that he’d hope for. Action hasn’t even begun yet and we find ourselves in an incredibly sticky situation with no less than eight players missing.
Full backs on either side are missing. Ferland Mendy suffers with a foot injury, and Marcelo was confirmed hurt just yesterday. Dani Carvajal’s fitness levels still remain questionable, and Álvaro Odriozola hasn’t featured in pre-season.
The short composition of defenders at Carlo’s disposal makes selection very predictable. At least as of now. In midfield, Ceballos is out with a serious injury from the Olympic Games while Martin Ødegaard was left out as he remains on the verge of committing his future elsewhere. Toni Kroos suffers from pubalgia and could miss anywhere between 6-8 weeks of action.
Others like Eden Hazard and Karim Benzema are doubts but were included anyways. Reminiscent of the latter end of the previous season where Los Blancos failed to find any sort of consistency with player availability. Let’s hope this isn’t the case for too long moving forward.
Vazquez— Militão — Alaba — Gutiérrez
Modrić —Casemiro — Isco
Bale — Benzema — Rodrygo
Aguirregabiria — Laguardia — Lejeune — Duarte
Pons — Garcia — Pina
Méndez — Joselu — Rioja
Player to Watch:
Real Madrid: David Alaba. It would make perfect sense to say that Karim Benzema or Luka Modrić are likely going to be Madrid’s star performers, but I’m mostly looking forward to watching Alaba and how he deals with football in Spain. Nothing should be enough to form judgments, or significant enough to come to conclusions but we sure may get to see what’s to come in the near future.
Alavès: Joselu. Aerially dominant, physically intimidating and very active in and around the box. Joselu is a very straightforward footballer. He initiates moves with late runs and diagonal movements. Get this, he’s far from a traditional striker. Real Madrid’s centre back pairing tonight will need to remain sharp and vigilant at all times. The kind of things this man can do with a little bit of space inside the area!
Alavés 0-2 Real Madrid.
Real Madrid haven’t had the best of pre seasons, but they displayed quality and delightful football against AC Milan last week. The only thing missing was the finishing touch. Ancelotti’s men sure do have the cutting edge over the home team and will likely be sharper and more confident.