Deportivo Alavés – Real Madrid: Alavés stun struggling Real with late, deserved winner (1-0)
Alavés rewarded their excellent performance and near-perfect game plan with a last-second winner, which allows them to catch Real Madrid in LaLiga’s table. Real Madrid complete their fourth match in a row without scoring, having lost three of those, and talks about a true ‘crisis’ are surely about to increase in the capital.
Real Madrid are a team in a difficult transition. Losing Cristiano Ronaldo was never going to be easy, and replacing Zinedine Zidane with Julen Lopetegui brought unique challenges. The Basque manager is far more demanding when it comes to the execution of his playing system than the easy going three-time Champions League winner Zidane was, so it would be reasonable to expect some difficulties in the beginning.
Or at least, it would be at most clubs. Not at Real Madrid. At Real Madrid there is no time, and after Tuesday night’s Champions League loss in Moscow at the hands of CSKA, many were already using the c-word - crisis, that is, what else were you thinking?
Alavés arrived in this game in a very different mood. Having assembled eleven points in seven games, the team from Vitoria-Gasteiz were just behind the big boys and have been one of the surprise packages of this season.
Manager “El Pitu” Abelardo Fernández surprised with presenting his team in a 4-3-3 (that turned into a 4-5-1 in defense) instead of the usual 4-4-2 formation. Combative midfielders Tomás Pina, Darko Brašanac and Mubarak Wakaso all started, with Jony and Ibai Gómez on the wings and Jonathan Calleri as the lone center forward.
With Isco and Marcelo out injured, Lopetegui must have cursed his luck even further when Daniel Carvajal also picked up . . .