Real looks to bounce back from their home loss against Real Betis on Saturday night in Vitoria-Gasteiz. The good news for Los Blancos is that this match will not be played at the Bernabéu, so this increases their chance of not tying or losing significantly. Regardless, Real Madrid must get back to their winning ways and hopefully get a streak going from this match forward.
On an encouraging note, Alaves hasn’t won or tied a match this season and are tied with Málaga for last place in La Liga. Even though the level of competition is clearly one-sided, Real would do well not to take them lightly like they did against Betis on Wednesday. A win would leave Real tied with Atlético Madrid for third at 11 points, provided Atlético drop their match against Sevilla tomorrow.
Real announced their 19-man squad for tomorrow’s match:
GK: Navas, Casilla, Luca
D: Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Varane, Nacho, Achraf, Tejero
MF: Modrić, Casemiro, Llorente, Asensio, Isco, Ceballos
F: Ronaldo, Bale, Vasquez, Mayoral
Notably missing from the announced squad are Benzema, Marcelo, and Kroos. Benzema is still out with a hamstring injury he sustained two weeks ago. It was announced earlier this morning that Marcelo could also be out around a month due to a leg injury. This injury could not have come at a worse time considering Real need to get some wins and it’ll be up to Nacho to step up and fill Marcelo’s boots. Real was dealt another blow when they announced Toni Kroos would also miss tomorrow’s match with a rib injury. Because of all the injuries occurring at once, it’ll be up to their replacements to get the much needed three points against Alaves.
Based off of the 19-man squad that was announced, the potential starting XI for Real tomorrow night could look like this:
D: Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Nacho
MF: Modrić, Casemiro, Isco
F: Ronaldo, Bale, Mayoral
Luka was arguably Real’s best player against Betis before being taken out, which many fans would say was much too soon given his level of play. Of course, Zidane could decide to rest him before subbing him later in the game, but given how much he contributed to their play Wednesday, I assume he starts. Mayoral will likely be sloted in at Benzema’s striking spot again since he’s done fairly well. Nacho will start at left back most likely given that Theo and Marcelo are both out injured. Look for Asensio, Ceballos, and Vasquez to come off the bench as substitutes.
On Alaves’ side, their starting XI could look like this:
D: Vigaray, Alexis, Maripan, Galilea
MF: Romero, Zidane Fernández, Medran
F: Santos, Bojan, Munir
The Zidane (Fernández) you see in Alaves’ sqaud is indeed Enzo Zidane, son of Real’s coach Zinedine. Alaves signed him over the summer after spending his entire youth career with the Real Madrid academy. He will definitely be THE player to watch for Madrid fans.
Some key players for Real in this match are Ronaldo, Bale, Isco, and Modrić. Ronaldo had a very lacklustre return against Betis. He missed quite a few chances that he doesn’t normally miss. Regardless, he must have a better game tomorrow and must bury his chances if Real hope to score and win. Bale will also be looked at to have a good match and spark the attack. He had a few chances himself that weren’t buried last match as well. Despite what the anti-Gareth crowd may say, Bale seems to be quite inspired this season so far and has probably played his best football in a couple seasons. His teammates must pass to him if he’s wide open if they want this scenario to continue.
Isco had a bad first-half against Betis and needs to play at the level he was prior to have a significant impact on Real’s attack. When he’s on, he’s really the driving force behind them controlling the pace of play and possession. Luka Modrić will be looked at again to have a standout performance. While he doesn’t need to be the best player on the pitch, it would be nice to see him have a great match again if it means getting the three points.
The defense must also play much better this match. Even though we play an inferior club, we can’t take them lightly. Ramos cannot be goal-watching as he did on Sanabria’s goal. Carvajal also needs to play much better as his last couple of performances have been concerning. There’s enough offensive talent in this squad to lead an attack and generate chances, they don’t need the defense to act as forwards as well. Ramos and company need to focus on defending first and if a chance falls on their plate, then deal with it. While it’s cool to see bicycle kicks, that doesn’t need to be the main concern for Los Blancos.
Deportivo Alavés 0 - 3 Real Madrid
It shouldn’t matter what the score actually is as long as Real get the three points and lights a fire under the team going forward. It’d be nice to see Ronaldo also get his first goal of the season and have a bounce-back performance. You don’t want to overhype the team, but this match doesn’t seem like one the defending champions should drop, especially when they’re playing one of the two worst clubs in La Liga currently.