After suffering a 3-1 defeat away to Sporting Huelva, Real Madrid had another tough away test coming up against Deportivo Alaves. The Basque club had previously played a 1-1 draw when the two sides met earlier in the season and have been a thorn to play against at home in the entire season, suffering just 3 defeats at home.
With players returning from international duty Toril lined up in a 4-2-3-1 with Maite on the left and Athenea on the right wing. Asllani made her return into the starting XI with Lucia filling in at RB. Alaves were lined up in a 4-3-3 that morphed into a 4-1-4-1 out of possession with Miriam at the base of the midfield and Mitu and Alba as the two #8.
Real Madrid won the game thanks to a goal from Esther that was set up nicely by Nahikari sliding the ball into her path. Madrid created enough chances to win the game but were frustrated in creating chances from settled possession against the compact deep block by Alaves. The game opened up as time went on allowing Madrid to look more threatening.
Here are 3 players that stood out from the game
Nahikari’s substitution was what basically swung the momentum in Madrid’s favor. Her first involvement since coming on was her assist to put Madrid ahead. She played well with the back to her goal and her positioning in general asked more questions of Alaves’ block than Maite was able to. She linked up play brilliantly and allowed Esther to roam in a more of a free role that she likes. She could have had a goal for herself with a header off a cross but couldn’t make contact after making a good run.
Esther could have had more than a goal to her name if not for some brilliant saves from the opposition GK. She was her relentless self, going at the defences and dropping deep to receive the ball. She hit the crossbar off of a header from a set-piece by Zornoza. It was her dropping deep that helped move Madrid up the field in the first half as well. She is a tireless presser.
Teresa had a solid showing at the base of the midfield. She orchestrated play from the deeper role, escaping opposition pressure, circulating possession and switching play to facilitate chance creation. The corner routine in the 8th minute saw her delivering a good ball to the far post for Rocio. She even tried her luck from outside the box but it was over.
Bits and pieces
- Athenea didn’t have her best game and wasn’t as impactful as one has come to expect of her playing on the right wing. Her dribbling sequences were able to get the better of 1 or 2 players but she oftentimes found herself outnumbered.
- Asllani on her return looked decent as well, although every time she got on the ball, she was brought down or held back. Her ball carrying sequences after dropping off were key in creating chances early on in the first half. Her ball reception on the half-turn was brilliant.
- Miriam was brilliant playing at the base of the midfield. She provided the necessary screening, reading and intercepting passes regularly. She was also crucial to their buildup with her passing being key in providing the switches to the far side. She was nicely complemented by Alba and Mitu, who both did an excellent job in cutting off passing lanes and avoiding transition moments using some tactical fouls.
- Jana Xin, the 18 year-old GK, starting her 4th game was fantastic as well, keeping Madrid out and making some brilliant saves in the process. Her distribution while not the best over long range was decent and did show some composure when under pressure as well.
- Maite was wasted on the left, where she wasn’t able to impose herself on the game sticking out wide. In the 2nd half she drifted inwards much more and was able to quickly create a chance and made a run to the far post as well before being subbed off. The experiment of using Maite out wide hasn’t quite worked on occasions where she isn’t tucking inwards and getting on the ball, which is what is desirable given her strengths.