For a team that has won the UEFA Champions League in four of the last five seasons, Real Madrid do like to find drama. The post-Zidane era has been a minor mess, with new coach Julen Lopetegui failing to make an immediate impression. While some wins have followed – the 3-0 win over AS Roma impressive especially – Los Meringues simply lack their usual spark.
With Madrid in such a lean spell, failing to score in three and scoring just one in the game prior to that, can they get a positive result this weekend against Deportivo Alaves?
Ever since Alaves have returned to the top flight, a trip to the Mendizorrotza Stadium is often a kick in the teeth. Depor know that, with just two losses in their seven so far, they could match Madrid for points with a win at home.
The impressive nature of their attack, with Jonathan Calleri finally living up to the promise of his Boca Juniors days, makes them a stand-out attacking threat. Throw in the rigorous bite of Mubarak Wakaso and Darko Brasanac, and they have the physical threat to really put a halt to Madrid in the middle of the pitch.
For Madrid, then, it’s about trying to stay solid after being too often cut open in the recent games. Their midfield offers little shielding to a defence that is finding it hard to keep the back door shut. Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane are nothing like the defence of previous, while the midfield looks weak and leggy at times.
With Ibai Gomez being among the finest distance shooters in the league, that tardiness could cost Madrid dear. If they intend to bring an end to their crisis, they need to find a zip that’s vanished.