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Tactical Review: Alaves 1 - 2 Real Madrid; 2019 La Liga

Deportivo Alaves v Real Madrid - La Liga Santander Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Real Madrid emerged triumphant from a cagey and choppy match against Alaves on Saturday. Los Blancos faced a defensively stout team and struggled to create chances as they escaped several close penalty calls that could have changed the game.

Soccerway website

Zidane opted for a fairly rotated side giving the nod to Areola in net, Militao in center defense, and Isco and Bale in offense. The midfield was comprised of the famous Kroos-Casemiro-Modric trio. The rest of the team included regular starters such as Ramos, Marcelo, Carvajal and Benzema.

Real Madrid’s offense stutters as they attempt to break through

Offensively, Real Madrid tried to take advantage of Alaves’ slightly advanced defensive line by launching balls over the top. However, this tactic was not particularly successful due to the disciplined marking of Alaves’ defensive unit excepting a few occasions such as Isco’s opportunity in the 19th minute.

Trying to bypass the defensive line with long balls was supplemented with applied crossing into deep areas in the opposition box such as Isco’s cross to Bale early in the half.

The most deliberate and impressive facet of Real Madrid’s offense was their renowned left side capacity. Isco’s presence on that wing significantly enhanced the touch value of the possession on the left flank. The Spaniard combined well with Marcelo to execute impactful overlaps and testing exchanges. Benzema also often gravitated to this zone further improving the quality of interplay.

It should be noted that Marcelo and Carvajal were required to significantly stretch the field through wide positioning in order to free up space in a tightly congested game. The fullbacks’ extending the actionable areas by moving wide was important for maintaining possession and progressing up the field.

Three goals in half an hour tactically influence the nature of the game

Ramos gave Real Madrid the lead early into the second half scoring a header off a Kroos delivery from a set piece in the 52nd minute. Following the goal, Los Blancos noticeably receded with Alaves assuming control of proceedings. The visitors defended admirably forming a reinforced defensive wall that the home team couldn’t break down. The hosts’ best opportunities arrived via crossing and isolating defenders and their intent was rewarded when they were awarded a penalty in the 63rd minute after Ramos took down Joselu. During Alaves’ period of dominance, they maintained an excellent level of defensive coverage thanks to compactness between their lines disrupting Real Madrid’s transition play.

Zidane’s men responded almost immediately. Bale was substituted off for Rodrygo and the young Brazilian recorded the hockey assist in the leadup to the second goal (scored by Carvajal). Tracing the goal back to its inception, it’s notable that Isco dropped very deep into midfield to help possession construction and increase Real Madrid’s presence in the middle third. This allowed his team to hold the ball with a little more comfort and carefully carve out space on the right win for Modric’s eventual assist.

Understat website

Carvajal’s goal was the last of the game. Zidane would bring on Valverde later on to help kill close out the match and the Urugyuan’s mobility and defensive acumen were instrumental in establishing control in the last period of the second half. An engaging tough battle in difficult conditions would end 2-1 in Real Madrid’s favour as Ramos and co picked up three valuable points.

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