Real Madrid’s problems continued, as they suffered a third league defeat, this time losing 2-1 at home against Deportivo Alaves, handing the visitors their first victory over Madrid in the Spanish capital, since the 1999-2000 campaign.
Rotations were promised, and rotations were made by Zinedine Zidane. Two of them being Marcelo and Marco Asensio. Since Zidane has returned for his second spell at Real, they have lost 10 La Liga matches, with Marcelo being a starter in each of them. Madrid remain unbeaten in the games Marcelo has not started, and that stat really came to the fore in the early stages. It took the Brazilian three minutes to make a sloppy error.
His unneccessary back pass went out for a corner, and from the resulting set-piece, Víctor Laguardia’s header came off Nacho Fernandez who stuck out an arm to block it, penalty given. Penalty scored by Lucas Perez, just as he did in the Alaves home fixture against Los Merengues last season.
It took the hosts 20 minutes to come up with something, Eden Hazard created a moment of magic at the half-way line, before carrying the ball forward and having a shot at goal saved by Fernando Pacheco. There was a penalty appeal in there too for Hazard, but nothing was given.
Alaves at this point were content to play on the counter, and they cut Real open again. A delightful long ball split the press, and found Lucas one on one with Thibaut Courtois, who made a big save to keep it at 1-0. Disaster then struck for Madrid, when Hazard asked to come off with an injury, Rodrygo Goes replaced the Belgian, who hasn’t played four games in a row since signing for Madrid. His dream move continues to appear like a nightmare.
Despite Madrid’s slow and defeatist attitude in the first half, they did carve out a good opening towards the end, when Toni Kroos was gifted the ball after Rodrygo won it back at the edge of the Alaves box. But instead of passing to an open Mariano, the German chose to go for goal instead, with Pacheco keeping the World Cup winner out tiwce.
Would it get better after the break? To begin with it, it did. There was more of a plan, and that was evident in the lovely combination between Marcelo and Asensio on the left, but Asensio’s cross to pick out Rodrygo was just too powerful. Just when you thought there may have been hope, Courtois gifted Alaves a second out of nothing. A poor attempted clearance, not even under a great deal of pressure, landed straight at Joselu’s feet, who couldn’t pass up on an open goal.
It was actually closer to being 3-0 than it was for Madrid to get back into the contest. Another long ball caught Madrid out on the break, Lucas swiveled in and out of Casemiro and Raphael Varane, before his shot was saved by Courtois. In the final 10 minutes, there was a mini fight back, first Mariano had a header cleared off the line by Florian Lejeune, and although Vinicius Junior’s initial shot was saved by Pacheco, Casemiro tapped-in the rebound to halve the deficit.
In stoppage time, Isco may have rounded off a positive cameo with a goal, though his shot crashed against the cross-bar with Pacheco totally rooted and helpless. But Madrid’s performance ultimately deserved a defeat, and their turbulent campaign continues, as do regular injuries to key starters. Zidane will say he needs to find solutions, but right now, Madrid look unlikely to defend their league title. A third defeat so far, the same amount they suffered throughout last season.
Up next for Real Madrid?
Who? Shakhtar Donetsk
When? Tuesday 1st December @ 18:55 CET
Where? NSC Olimpiyskiy, Kiev.