Real Madrid travelled away to Alavés and came away with a hard-fought 2-1 victory thanks to a brace from Dani Ceballos. The game was tough and physical, with Alavés’ players picking up four yellow cards and a couple Real players going down in pain. Considering the team’s current form and the circumstances, Zidane will surely be satisfied with the three points.
Real Madrid Were Extremely Shaky on Defense
For some inexplicable reason, Real continued their complacent start to the league season with some shoddy defending vs. Alavés. The organization between the back-line wasn’t there, as defenders would push up without being provided adequate cover by their partners. This was especially visible on the first goal, where Nacho pushed up to press Burgui and failed to get back into position in time. Ramos failed to shift and cover, allowing Munir to run into space and deliver a cross. Manu García made a free run into the box and scored Alavés’ first goal of the season, with Varane caught ball watching.
Similar moments were evident in moments later in the game; most notably, when Navas was forced into a 1v1 situation that Alavés somehow failed to convert.
If Real wish to hunt down Barcelona in the quest for La Liga, concentration and cohesion at the back is a must.
Dani Ceballos Wasn’t Perfect, But His Flashes of Quality Proved to Be Decisive
While his finishing was superb today, his persistence and physical strength to ride the challenge on the first goal, his dribbling, and his defensive work has me excited for the future. If Zidane can somehow give Ceballos enough minutes, the young Spanish midfielder can likely morph into a player of Kovacic’s quality in a season or two. Having said that, Ceballos does have some work to do like all promising talents. His decision making regarding when to dribble and when to pass could use some improvement, and today he had some trouble dealing with opposing pressure. He ran into trouble a bit too much and was forced into fifty-fifty duels to get himself out of tough situations.
Shots on target: 3/3
Key passes: 1
Successful dribbles: 2/4
Fouls drawn: 2
Unsuccessful touches: 3
Successful passes: 49/53
Successful tackles: 3/4
Ronaldo Was Very Unlucky Not to Score
Despite receiving no good service whatsoever, he used his individual ability to create some quality chances; i.e. his brilliant trick to dance inside a defender and ricochet a left-footed shot off the post and his nifty shift of feet to create space for a saved shot from range. Add to that his slick chipped free-kick over the top for Ramos, his pre-assist on the first goal, and his neat chip over a sliding defender, and you have a pretty good performance from the Portuguese legend.
Shots on target: 1/6
Key passes: 1
Successful dribbles: 3/3
Fouls drawn: 1
Unsuccessful touches: 3
Successful passes: 21/25
Real Failed to Create Many Clear-Cut Chances For Most of the Game, But Alavés Deserve Credit For Their Organization
Alavés defended in a 4-4-1-1 medium block and did their best to stay compact and deny space to Real’s clever midfielders. The cohesion between their blocks and their willingness to cede space out wide enabled them to assert some control over Real’s build-up, though Los Blancos’ midfielders did their best to disrupt this. Eventually, it took Ronaldo dropping deep in and around zone 14 to help construct passing combinations on the sides of the box to create some impetus. But even with Cristiano’s quality, Real found it difficult to find the space to deliver final balls. The only time Alavés really looked vulnerable was when Real put balls over the top, which created an Isco 1v1 opportunity via a Varane pass and a Ramos headed opportunity via a Ronaldo free-kick.
Fernando Pacheco Had a Shocker of a Game
Despite making some decent saves, Pacheco made two horrible mistakes that he will want to forget rather quickly.
- The limp punch that went straight to Ceballos and gave Real the winning goal (whoscored even credited Pacheco for the error).
- The complete mess-up on Isco’s cross that gave Ramos a free shot that he subsequently missed.
Unrelated Morata appreciation tweet (HE’S STILL ONE OF US GODDAMIT... *SOBS*)