Deportivo Alavés 0-1 Real Madrid (Vázquez). A late win. Here is the reaction. Next in line: Player ratings, post game questions and a podcast.
Girona had slipped up in their earlier game against Real Betis, meaning that if Real Madrid could beat Deportivo Alavés then they could take top spot for themselves. David Alaba was confirmed to be out for some time, meaning that Nacho Fernández came in to take his place. Kepa Arrizabalaga started in goal ahead of the in form fan favourite Andriy Lunin. Fran García came back in at left-back. Brahim Díaz continued to start and once again had the chance to be the hero. Nico Paz was amongst the substitutes, as was Joselu Mato. For the opposition, Madrid loanee Rafa Marin started at centre-back, who has been rumoured to be a potential replacement for Alaba. Castilla graduate Antonio Blanco also started in midfield. Nacho Fernández captained the team for this local derby.
Fede Valverde almost scored immediately after a great team move opened things up, but the keeper had no early nerves as he made a decent low save. You’d have hoped the game would be as exciting as the first minute or two, but it quickly quietened down. It was Valverde who would spice things up again, but with a worse effort than his first. Whilst comfortable enough with Alavés being no threat, Madrid didn’t push forwards enough themselves and almost settled for the 0-0 score line at half time.
With Nacho's red card and injuries to David Alaba and Eder Militao, Real Madrid are now down to only one centre back ...— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) December 21, 2023
Antonio Rudiger pic.twitter.com/9VwAqVRmvn
The second half would be more lively, but not for all of the right reasons. The home side almost had an early penalty but the referee didn’t pull up Nacho Fernández for a potential hand ball. Nacho would be at the centre of things not long later as a dangerous challenge went from a yellow to a straight red card via the assistance of VAR. Madrid were down to ten, but still needed that win to go top, and you would still favour them in this situation. The game slowed down once more, but Rodrygo Goes looked dangerous after a run and a strike towards goal that went just past the post. The Brazilian was one of the bright sparks, and forced a great save from the keeper late on to preserve the goalless score line. Alavés looked livelier with their man advantage, but Los Blancos defended well to keep themselves in it. Just as it looked to late, the hero did arise. Whilst many would brand him unlikely, he has provided many big moments in the past. Lucas Vázquez, from a corner of all scenarios, planted his header into the top corner after a trademark Toni Kroos delivery. Exquisite. The game finished and Madrid just about got away with it, and put themselves back at the top of the table? Let me know your thoughts about the game below!