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Three answers and three questions from Real Madrid’s loss to Alavés

Six of the main talking points from Saturday night’s defeat.

Real Madrid v Deportivo Alaves - La Liga Santander Photo by Helios de la Rubia/Real Madrid via Getty Images

A 2-1 home loss to Alavés seriously dented Real Madrid’s hopes of retaining their league title. Here comes a look at some of the main talking points from that game.

Three answers

1. Would there be a Champions League hangover?

Yes, there really was. We saw this after the previous victory over Inter, when Real Madrid then went out and lost 4-1 to Valencia. This time, there was another Champions League hangover against Alavés. There was a big difference compared to that Valencia loss, though, which was that Real Madrid started so poorly this time around. In his post-match press conference, Zinedine Zidane labelled this Real Madrid’s worst start to a match of the season and he’s not wrong.

2. How would Alavés line up?

Of course, it was going to be interesting to see how Real Madrid would line up for this match. It always is interesting to see how and with whom Zidane sets his team up. But, in this one, I was more curious to see what Pablo Machín and Alavés would do. He has been alternating his tactical setup all season, never quite settling on one particular formation. Often he has gone for a back three, but in this one it was a back four. When considering how deep the central midfielders Tomás Pina and Rodrigo Battaglia got, it was almost a back six. But, it worked.

3. Would we get another family matter?

We’ve already had one sibling rivalry this season, when brothers Nacho and Álex Fernández faced off in Real Madrid vs Cádiz. We were in line to get another one this weekend since the partners of Alavés striker Joselu and Real Madrid right-back Dani Carvajal are twin sisters. Real Madrid vs Alavés matches are, therefore, extra special for Daphne and Mel Cañizares, but not quite so special this time because of Friday’s new of Carvajal’s latest injury. He couldn’t play in this match, while Joselu did play and got on the scoresheet in his side’s important win.

Three questions

1. How was that not a penalty on Marcelo?

When refereeing decisions go in Real Madrid’s favour, it’s a topic of conversation for days afterwards. But, it’s also true that sometimes decisions don’t go in Real Madrid’s favour when they should. This match had an example of that, with the inexplicable no-call for Víctor Laguardia’s tug on Marcelo’s hair inside the penalty area. It was such a weird action, something you rarely see, but it did happen and should have been a penalty.

2. Why was it so easy for Alavés to counter attack?

When Real Madrid analyse this loss, they’ll need to do some serious thinking about the several counter attacking chances they conceded to Alavés. Real Madrid tried to press high in this game and largely failed at this because it was so uncoordinated, with the consequence being that Alavés could time and time again hit long balls over the top for their strikers to run on to and turn into chances. Chances that Thibaut Courtois often snuffed out, despite his one big mistake. This counter attacking ease for the opposition was one of the most worrying aspects of this Real Madrid performance.

3. How long will Hazard be out injured this time?

Once again, Eden Hazard is out injured. Just when the Belgian had returned form injury and from coronavirus and just when he was starting to play a series of matches in a row, he fell injured again and had to be substituted off in the 28th minute. As Zidane said in his post-match press conference: “I think and I hope it’s just a knock. I hope it’s not a muscular injury.” A medical report should be released after tests on Sunday, but for now there is concern over this latest issue.

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Posted by Managing Madrid on Sunday, November 29, 2020

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