La Liga 2017/18: Deportivo Alaves 1-2 Real Madrid, 5 Talking Points
Real Madrid clawed back the 7 point gap to Barcelona, temporarily at least, with a hard-fought 2-1 win away to Deportivo Alaves. The result leaves Madrid fourth in the Liga table, although Valencia, Levante, Real Sociedad and Real Betis could all leapfrog Los Blancos with a win.
It was the Dani Ceballos show at the Mendizorrotza, as he opened the scoring with a well-taken strike, only for Manu Garcia to deservedly draw Alaves level in the 40th minute. However, Ceballos scored minutes later to restore Madrid's lead after a gift from Pacheco. Alaves managed to hit the post twice in the second half, as they caused Madrid plenty of problems.
Here are the major talking points from the game
#1 Dani Ceballos comes to the fore
There was plenty of anguish from Spanish pundits (mostly the Catalan ones) when Dani Ceballos signed for Real Madrid this summer, as they argued that a promising player who set alight the U-20 Euros with his performances needed to play and not sit on the bench. However, injuries have offered Ceballos his chance to shine, and the Spaniard grabbed it with both hands tonight.
The former Betis midfielder's habit of making a late run into the box proved pivotal, as he displayed the calm usually associated with a striker for both of his goals, striking the ball with a calm that looked almost Toni Kroos-esque in execution.
Ceballos can take inspiration from Isco, who made his 200th appearance for Real Madrid today, but could only be considered a first team regular from the start of 2017. Ceballos will find regular game-time hard to come by, but if he bides his time, he could become the bedrock of the Madrid midfield in a couple of seasons.