Alaves vs Real Madrid preview, predicted XI, team news, and more
Since their only Liga defeat of the season at Mallorca (0-1), Madrid have scored 12 goals in their next four Liga games, keeping three consecutive clean-sheets. Only third-placed Atletico Madrid and fourth-placed Athletic Bilbao (9 apiece) have conceded less Liga goals than Madrid (10) this season. The capital club are second on the table, trailing league leaders Barcelona on goal difference.
With 10 goals, striker Karim Benzema leads the La Liga scoring charts, 2 ahead of all-time top-scorer Lionel Messi of Barcelona. The Frenchman's form in 2019-20 has played a significant part in Madrid's upturn in domestic fortunes after their dismal form last season.
Madrid keeper Thibaut Courtois' 5 Liga clean sheets in 2019-20 is only bettered by four other keepers. Captain Sergio Ramos and Frenchman Raphael Varane have struck a formidable central-defensive partnership this season. Ramos and Casemiro are the only Madrid players to have played all league games in 2019-20.
Despite scoring one Liga goal in 8 games. new signing Eden Hazard is beginning to show glimpses of the form which prompted Madrid to lure him from Chelsea. However, the Belgian is a doubtful starter for the Alaves game, having picked up a bruise on his right leg.
It is a league rivalry which has been heavily dominated by Madrid. In 28 Liga games between them, Madrid have won 23 games, drawing twice, and losing thrice. The capital club has emerged victorious on 10 occasions in their 12 previous trips to the Estadio Mendizorrotza, however, Alaves beat the record-time European champions at home last season for their first win over Madrid in 87 years.
Last 5 games (both teams)
Real Madrid: W-W-D-W-L.
Last 5 home games (Alaves)
Last 5 away games (Real Madrid)
Real Madrid: W-L-D-W-D.
Alaves have a fit contingent of players for the Madrid game, with no player unavailable for selection due to suspension or otherwise.
Eden Hazard (bruised leg) is a doubtful name while Marco Asensio, James Rodriguez and Lucas Vazquez are unavailable for selection.
Alaves (4-4-2): Fernando Pacheco; Ruben Duarte, Ximo Navarro, Victor Laguardia, Martin Aguirregabiria; Luis Rioja, Tomas Pina, Manu Garcia, Aleix Vidal; Joselu, Lucas Perez.
Real Madrid (4-3-3): Thibaut Courtois; Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos, Ferland Mendy; Luca Modric, Casemiro, Valverde; Rodrygo, Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale.
Considering Madrid's dominance in their head-to-head rivalry with Alaves, despite a defeat on their last trip to the Mendizorrotza, anything but a Madrid victory would be a surprise.
Verdict - Alaves 1-2 Real Madrid.
Modified 21 Dec 2019, 01:11 IST