Real Madrid demolished a brave Alaves side 4-1 in the sides’ opening La Liga game for the 2021-22 season as a Karim Benzema brace and a goal each from Nacho and Vinicius Junior sealed three sweet points for Ancelotti’s men.
The first half was the footballing equivalent of pinball. Both sides won and lost the ball away multiple times as players showed rustiness in their passing, understandable since it’s just the first game of the season. Alaves’ Manu Garcia impressed the most as he bossed the midfield and created breakaways for his team.
Real Madrid turned on the screw in the second half and a 20-minute spell thwarted any hopes that Alaves fans had from their team. The team looked fantastic under their new coach Carlo Ancelotti, especially the new front three of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, and Eden Hazard.
Alaves did get one goal back after Thibaut Courtois brought John Guidetti down, with Joselu scoring an ice-cold penalty. The hosts tried their best to force a comeback, but Real Madrid were just too good. Vinicius Junior completed the mauling with a header in stoppage time. Don Carlo will be extremely happy about how his second stint at Real Madrid has begun.
Here are the player ratings from the game:
Francesco Pacheco (GK) (5.5/10): He didn’t make any big save and should have prevented the third goal.
Martin Aguirregabiria (5.5/10): The right-back couldn’t contain Eden Hazard but completed the game with 3 tackles, 1 clearance, and 1 key pass.
Florian Lejeune (6/10): The centre-back was better in comparison to the other Alaves defenders. He completed 9 long balls and was really good during the first half. He finished the game with 1 interception, 3 clearances, and 3 blocks.
Victor Laguardia (5/10): Absolutely erratic performance from the centre-half in the second half.
Ruben Duarte (6/10): He didn’t perform as bad as the scoreline suggests. With 3 aerial duals won, 2 interceptions, and 5 clearances, Javier Calleja (Alaves manager) will take a positive away from the game in the form of Duarte’s performance.
Tomas Pina (6/10): Pina was fundamental to the pressing scheme of Alaves, and it worked. He was vital during the first half and ended the game with an impressive 95.8% pass completion rate.
Pere Pons (5.5/10): He slotted alongside Pina in the double-pivot of Calleja’s 4-2-3-1, but was not nearly as influential as Pina at any moment during the game.
Luis Rioja (5.5/10): Rioja had a decent first half, but he faded as Real Madrid began to assert themselves. The winger ended the game with 3 shots and 1 key pass.
Manu Garcia (6.5/10): One of the biggest positives for Javier Calleja. Manu Garcia was slick playing in the free #10 role behind Joselu in the first half, and Calleja will hope he can carry on the form for the rest of the season.
Edgar Mendez (5.5/10): Mendez failed to impress but he did register 2 key passes.
Joselu (7.5/10): Joselu was the best Alaves player on the pitch by a country mile. His love affair of scoring against Real Madrid continues. The striker linked up well with his teammates and was a constant threat during the first half.
Mamadou Loum (5/10): He made his Alaves debut by coming off the bench. He couldn’t help his side flip the narrative.
John Guidetti (6/10): The Swede rejuvenated Alaves for a brief phase during the second half. His introduction brought fresh energy to Alaves and he won the penalty which Joselu scored.
Ivan Martin (5/10): Martin had just 10 touches on the ball and completed 5 out of 7 attempted passes.
Facundo Pellestri (5.5/10): The 19-year old Uruguayan was brave during his 23-minute appearance off the bench but couldn’t conjure anything special.
Toni Moya (NA)
Thibaut Courtois (GK) (6/10): The Belgian couldn’t save the penalty from Joselu and looked nervous at times with the handling of the ball.
Lucas Vazquez (6/10): He lost a lot of aerial duels and was not as alert as he should have been as a right-back.
Eder Militao (5/10): The centre-back cost the team a clean sheet due to a lapse where he passed the ball back to Courtois without knowing that John Guidetti was lurking.
Nacho (8.5/10): Nacho did not put a foot wrong during his display and also scored a brilliant outstretched goal during a set piece. He once again showed why he is such a reliable defender. He finished the game with 6 clearances, 2 interceptions, and a block.
David Alaba (8/10): The latest addition to the squad capped his official debut for Real Madrid with an assist for Vinicius Junior’s goal. He was deployed in his preferred left-back role and was a great two-way presence for the team.
Casemiro (7.5/10): Casemiro meant business as usual in the holding midfielder role. A few of his touches oozed class and he finished the game with 4 tackles and 2 interceptions.
Federico Valverde (7.5/10): The Uruguayan provided the lungs for Real Madrid’s midfield. His typical run in the second half led to Benzema’s second goal. He completed 2 dribbles and 1 key pass.
Luka Modric (8.5/10): The legendary Croat was the engine of Real Madrid’s midfield. Everything flowed through the 35-year old’s feet and completely dominated the middle third. It’s difficult to believe he will turn 36 next month.
Gareth Bale (6.5/10): A promising return for Gareth Bale in Real Madrid colours. He was hungry to have the ball at his feet and was not afraid to take a shot from distance (had 4 shots).
Karim Benzema (9/10): King Karim picks up from where he left off last season. The #9 opened the scoring and added another to put the game to bed in the second half. His link-up was fantastic.
Eden Hazard (7.5/10): Real Madrid fans will be extremely happy with what they saw today. Hazard looked as sharp as he ever has in a Real Madrid shirt, showing impeccable close control. His chemistry with Benzema is telepathic, as seen during the first goal. That was a majestic, cheeky flick to set Benzema up.
Vinicius Junior (7.5/10): A cameo filled with excitement! Vini Jr. showed what he is capable of and begins the season in an emphatic fashion, scoring a goal. He was unstoppable during his appearance off the bench.
Rodrygo (6/10): He played on the right-wing and had a few bright moments.
Marco Asensio (NA)
Luka Jovic (NA)