Report: Deportivo Alavés 1-2 Real Madrid
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Real Madrid went top of La Liga after a grinding a win against Deportivo Alavés on a rainy afternoon.  This may be temporary as Barcelona are facing Atlético on Sunday. Zidane had some selection surprises, to begin with but Los Blancos are returning to the capital with all three points. The tight scoreline of the game was complemented by plenty of drama as well. So let’s go and see how it all panned out:

The first surprise was designated under the Real Madrid goal. Zidane gave an opportunity to Areola to come out of the fringes. Marcelo was given the nod ahead of Mendy while Modric started ahead of Valverde. Bale replaced Hazard in attack while Isco kept his place. Although, Isco’s inclusion didn’t mean Real Madrid were starting with the 4-4-2 diamond again. Isco and Bale visibly exchanged the two wings to start with. Quite predictably, Alavés started with a flat 4-4-2. 

The game got off to a frantic start. On minute 7, there was a huge cry, all around the stadium for a penalty after Aleix Vidal was down inside the box. The referee rushed to the spot to show a yellow card to Vidal as a punishment for the simulation. VAR later confirmed that Éder Militão had clearly gotten the ball and Vidal tried to make the best out of the contact.

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Isco got a great chance about 10 minutes later after Carvajal set him up for a shot inside the area but the Spanish international blasted it over the goal. Just before the half-hour mark, Duarte’s shot was deflected with Pérez in a dangerous position but Real Madrid ended up being safe. A couple of minutes later, Isco missed another chance but this time he was denied by Pacheco. 

Modric was Madrid’s first booking of the game after a poor challenge on Duarte. Madrid actually targeted the Alavés left flank with audacious long balls directed towards Bale and Isco who periodically occupied that area. Some of them led to creating chances for Madrid but some of them just went over. Pacheco was having a good game against his former club as he made another good save, this time against a shot from Casemiro. Tomas Pina was booked just on the mark of the half time. The referee blew the whistle and the players headed for the tunnel.

Real Madrid made a strong start to the second half as their Captain fantastic – Sergio Ramos put them into the lead with a signature header. Real Madrid won a free-kick near the right flank and Toni Kroos found Ramos with his signature cross. The game opened up a little bit after the Madrid goal. Alavés were trying to be more proactive in their attacks. Ramos almost conceded a penalty in the line but the referee ruled in favor of the Real Madrid captain for the first time but he couldn’t escape it the second time. Lucas Pérez calmly put away the penalty to equalize for the home side and the game was left wide open now. Pérez, however, got booked for his celebration.

Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Real Madrid made their first change as Bale made way for Rodrygo. Madrid didn’t take long to regain their lead. Dani Carvajal was the main architect and the scorer of the goal. He was brilliant with his off-the-ball movement. Isco missed a header after a cross flew in from the right. Carvajal was in exactly the right place to nudge it home as Madrid recovered their lead.

There was a barrage of substitutions and bookings for the next few minutes. Madrid brought on Valverde for Modric while Éder Militão and Duarte got booked in the meantime. Real Madrid had their plan set up well. Benzema was drifting wide with Marcelo as an outlet and Isco was often making runs inside the area.

The rain got heavier and the referee was finding it difficult to keep his gadgets working fine. The game had to experience multiple stoppages due to this issue. Zidane called upon Ferland Mendy as an extra cover for his defense and it actually fared pretty well for Madrid. 

There were eight minutes of stoppage time due to technical issues. Alavés tried their best to get back into the game from a scoring perspective again but Real Madrid were aware enough to see them off. 

In the final minutes, Fede Valverde made a terrible miss when he could have easily passed it to Karim Benzema but that didn’t cause any trouble for Madrid in the end as they go momentarily on top of La Liga. 

Line Ups and Key Events

Real Madrid XI: Areola; Carvajal, Sergio Ramos,  Éder Militão, Marcelo; Kroos, Casemiro, Modric; Bale, Benzema, Isco.

Goal(s): Ramos (52′), Carvajal (69′)

Booking(s): Modric (32′), Ramos (63′), Éder Militão (80′).

Substitution(s): Rodrygo for Bale (67′), Valverde for Modric (80′), Mendy for Isco (90′).

Alavés XI: Fernando Pacheco; Martin Aguirregabiria, Victor Laguardia, Navarro, Ruben Duarte; Mubarak Wakaso, Tomas Pina, Roja; Aleix Vidal, Lucas Pérez, Joselu

Goal(s): Pérez (65′)

Booking(s): Vidal (7′), Pina (46′), Pérez (67′), Duarte (79′).

Substitution(s): Burke for Roja (60′), Pons for Pina (76′), Garcia for Wakasso (82′).

Referee: Guillermo Cuadra Fernandez (Spain).

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