Deportivo Alaves and Real Madrid engaged in a battle at the Mendizorrotza Stadium between the heavy rain and bad weather conditions.
In the end, Zinedine Zidane saw his men grind out a 2-1 win over Alaves to go top of the table in La Liga.
In this tactical analysis, we are providing an analysis of the way the game played out by Real Madrid and Alaves.
Alaves coach Asier Garitano used a 4-4-2 formation to counter Zinedine Zidane’s 4-3-3.
Víctor Laguardia and Ximo Navarro played as center-backs with Rubén Duarte and Martín Aguirregabiria to their left and right respectively.
Tomás Pina and Mubarak Wakaso holding down the middle while Luis Rioja and Aleix Vidal operated on the wings.
Lucas Pérez teamed up with Joselu, covered the frontline.
As for Zinedine Zidane, he rolled out his 4-3-3 formation. Gareth Bale made his first start since his return from a controversial international break.
Karim Benzema played his forward role while Isco alternated between a free role and the left-wing.
Alphonse Areola started in goal instead of Thibaut Courtois. Eder Militão and Sergio Ramos as centre-backs and the wing combination of Dani Carvajal and Marcelo.
Luka Modric and Toni Kroos joined with Casemiro in the midfield.
Alaves sat deep and absorbing pressure.
In the first half, Alaves took a cautious approach. They were sitting deep and absorbing the pressure what Zidane wants to put to his opposition at the early stage of the game.
As the field and weather conditions limiting the pace of the game, Alaves used the weather in their favour.
They denied the space while limiting the activity of Real Madrid’s attackers.
What Alaves did in the Real Madrid midfield?
Each time Kroos, Modric or Casemiro dropped deep to receive, they were immediately pressed. As they were heavily pressed, Ramos was their only passing option.
They actually wanted that. They were trying to force Ramos to take on the playmaking role. Alaves was very aggressive pressing while the team got its shape.
But it worked more in the second rather than the fast half.
Alaves owned only 32% possession and averaged 0.19 attacks per minute in the first half. But in the second half, they made an average of 0.45 attacks per minutes in the second half.
After Real Madrid recovers the ball near midfield, Alaves closes space quickly, forcing Real Madrid backward. Ramos is the only passing option.
Alaves was tactically disciplined, taking away Ramos’ all passing options. They effectively closed all options for passes on the ground.
Ramos opted to play long on the ground to Marcelo. As Marcelo was coming back from a high and wide position, Aguirregabiria won the ball and allowed Alaves to start a counter attack.
Long ball technique
As we commonly see, small teams usually keep an eye to their defensive structure and wait for mistakes against big teams to snatch points. But Alaves was trying to create frustration in Madrid defense.
Alaves tended to be more direct, targeting their two forwards. They stayed near each other, the one to win the header and the other to look for the second ball.
One of the midfielders was generally able to push forward in support of the forwards as the midfield was overloaded.
Real Madrid tended to progress down the wings and half-spaces as they closed all options for passes on the ground.
The deep sitting players of Alaves were always looking for the more direct route to goal.
As Real Madrid possessed in the middle third, the forward and outside-backs looked to create gaps and test the defense with runs in behind.
Real Madrid’s answer
Real switched the play moving from left the right. Then the ball was played back to Ramos. With Alaves allowed Ramos to take on the playmaker role, he had plenty of time to pick up his head and identify runs in behind the Alaves backline.
Most of the time, Carvajal and Isco’s run was untracked when Ramos played a pass.
Carvajal’s first touch slowed him down enough to allow the defense to recover their ground, but the midfield wasn’t close enough behind them, which allowed Isco to receive a pass from Carvajal and direct a shot towards goal.
Weather conditions made this a very difficult game. Ramos got his goal on a set-piece, Pérez equaled with a penalty kick and Carvajal scored a 69th-minute winner. In the end, Real Madrid is a deserving winner in Mendizorrotza Stadium.
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