A new La Liga season is upon us as Real Madrid is set to travel to Basque Country to take on Deportivo Alavés in their home opener.
Alavés have not done all that well in their season openers as they have won just one of their last seven La Liga kickoffs. Alavés have also historically struggled in this matchup with Real Madrid being the club they’ve lost to the most in the league. Real also boast their second highest away win percentage against Alavés.
This season will look a lot different for Real Madrid with the departures of two central players in Raphael Varane and former captain Sergio Ramos. Both will be sorely missed for both their leadership and defensive contributions. Newcomer David Alaba will look to fill a partial gap in the absolutely massive hole left behind both players’ legacies.
This is also returning manager Carlo Ancelotti’s first match back with the club he departed in 2015. He will look for similar success as he won both a Copa del Rey and Champions League title during his previous tenure. Even with his elaborate career, Ancelotti will have to fill the big shoes left behind by Zinedine Zidane.
Real will start this season off similarly to the way they ended last season with multiple injuries to the current squad. Ferland Mendy, Marcelo, Toni Kroos, Dani Carvajal and Jesus Vallejo will all miss the match due to injury. Martin Odegaard is unavailable as he is expected to complete a move to Arsenal shortly.
Alavés will be without right back Ximo Navarro who is recovering from a muscle injury.
There are no suspensions in Saturday’s season opener.
Pacheco; Aguirregabiria, Laguardia, Lejeune, Duarte; Pina, Pons; Mendez, Garcia, Rioja; Perez
Courtois; Vazquez, Militao, Alaba, Gutierrez; Modric, Casemiro, Isco; Rodrygo, Vinicius, Benzema
Lucas Vazquez could be expected to start in place of the injured Carvajal even with Alvaro Odriozola available. Alaba could also make his first Real Madrid start, though Nacho is also an option. The young Miguel Gutierrez will likely be given the chance to start with both Marcelo and Mendy out.
Isco will likely fill the starting role for the missing Kroos. The right wing spot could be given to Rodrygo with Vazquez filling in at right back while Gareth Bale and Marco Asensio are also options. Vinicius will likely start as Eden Hazard just recovered from his injury and will likely be handled with caution. Karim Benzema could be given the start, though Luka Jovic is available if Benzema is not fully ready.
Alavés—Real Madrid 1-2
This could be a low scoring affair with the abundance of injuries Real Madrid have to start this new season. However, Real still have enough quality in the available squad to get the away victory.
Real and Ancelotti must start this season off on the right foot with three points, though it certainly won’t come easy given the circumstances. Nevertheless, La Liga and Real Madrid football are back and it couldn’t be more welcoming.