Match Preview: Real Madrid vs Alavés – 2021/22
Four points to the good in LaLiga Santander, Real Madrid’s lead at the top seems to be threatened more than it’s been all season. Following the Paris debacle, there’s no time to waste, as relegation-threatened Deportivo Alavés come to the Bernabéu in search of a point or three.
All eyes will be on Ancelotti’s team tonight. After the Champions League upset, the team’s performances and of course the results will determine a lot in the weeks to come. One can’t stress enough how crucial these few games are in Madrid’s bid to reassert their dominance and make themselves comfortable at the top again.
What to Expect:
Deportivo Alavés lie in 18th place. Jose Luis Mendilibar had come under a lot of pressure following three underwhelming results in the space of a couple weeks. They beat a struggling Valencia side in game week 24 to lift the spirits of the Mendizorroza, who truly enjoyed that victory.
In an attempt to return to the mid-table places, Alavés made a couple of January signings and they haven’t disappointed thus far. Spanish winger Jason signed on a free and Argentine holding midfielder Gonzalo Escalante is on loan from Lazio. The two have taken part in all of the five games since their respective arrivals.
Alavés were brilliant in their win over Valencia. It represented everything the club aim to be — gritty, determined, and full of fighting spirit. Generally, Mendilibar’s side is perceived to be weak at maintaining possession, rather choosing to play through long balls and create goalscoring chances much more directly down the flanks. It is their strength, and playing to their strengths is precisely what they did.
Fernando Pacheco (has had some memorable performances vs Madrid and Barça and will take the armband) stands in goal, he distributes long and is an excellent handler of the ball. Rubén Duarte is as consistent as they come on the left, so is winger Luis Rioja who likes cutting in and is Alavés’ main creative presence in the final third. In midfield, Tomás Pina and recently crowned AFCON champion Mamadou Loum form a partnership.
This is a strong lineup, even without captain Victor Laguardia (who they will miss by the way). If they manage to put behind them their goalscoring woes, finish clinically on set pieces, they may as well put up a repeat of the Valencia triumph tonight. One thing is certain, you can expect even the team placed 18th in the league to have 11 committed players on the field that put in a shift.
This is a league that never fails to deliver. Even first versus eighteenth is a contest to look forward to.
Real Madrid have a full squad and Carlo Ancelotti will be expected to make full use of it.
Alavés are without central midfielder Ximo Navarro who hasn’t appeared since August. Captain and veteran central defender Victor Laguardia finds himself suspended. Fill in defender Matthew Miazga is half decent but hasn’t been on the pitch in just about a month. He will partner French stopper Florian Lejeune. If there’s one player on Mendilibar’s eleven that isn’t fresh tonight, it’s him.
— Real Madrid News (@onlyrmcfnews) February 18, 2022
Carvajal — Militão — Alaba — Mendy
Modrić — Casemiro — Kroos
Bale — Benzema — Vinícius
Tenaglia — Miazga — Lejeune — Duarte
Pina — Mamadou Loum — Escalante
Jason — Joselu — Luis Rioja
Player to Watch:
Real Madrid: Federico Valverde. Expect the Uruguayan to take part tonight. Still frustrating that he didn’t start the game in Paris. The midfielder is a difference maker, he will run at the Alavés defence and help create strong overloads on the right flank. Marco Asensio simply doesn’t deserve to start tonight’s match.
Deportivo Alavés: Joselu. Runs in behind, anchor play, and a record in front of goal that outdoes his team’s achievements. The centre forward is Alavés’ most threatening footballer. Everything they do comes to the focal point that is him, although when he does drop a little deeper he tends to be the weak link in attack. 12 goals in the league already, he’s the man to watch out for.
Real Madrid 2-0 Deportivo Alavés.
The frustration from Real Madrid’s previous two games shouldn’t carry over, atleast I don’t expect them to. I see us playing a near-perfect match at the Bernabéu tonight. For all of Alavés’ troubles, they are a decent side. With a bit of luck they might take a point away from the capital but nothing more than that. Hala Madrid!