One team has won La Liga 32 times while the other has never won the Spanish title and, in fact, played in the second division for the majority of its existence. So, you wouldn’t think Real Madrid would be too bothered about Deportivo Alaves, however, this is a team that held Atletico Madrid to a draw on the opening day of the season and defeated Barcelona at the Camp Nou a couple weeks later.
Currently sitting 13th in the table, Alaves are not among the favorites to win any trophies this season but have shown a knack for causing trouble for La Liga’s more established teams. In addition to the Atleti draw and the Barça win, Alaves have beat Granada, and held the likes of Malaga and Deportivo La Coruna to draws.
So while Zinedine Zidane’s red-hot Real Madrid side will arrive at the Mendizorrotza Stadium in the heart of Basque country as strong favorites, the possibility of another upset remains in the air.
It’s been over a decade since the last time these two met. Real won that encounter – in February of 2006 – and have dealt Alaves some heavy defeats over the years. Real are coming off the back of a blistering run of form that includes a 7-1 thrashing of Cultural Leonesa in the Copa Del Rey, a 2-1 win over Bilbao in the league, and a 5-1 pasting of Legia Warsaw in the Champions League.
But there have been stumbles along the way this season.
While Zidane’s team remains undefeated in all competitions, they drew four games in a row back in late September/early October. Results have improved since then, thanks in part to the performance of an emerging attacking trio that has outshone even Real’s illustrious “BBC” of Bale, Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Known in the Spanish press as the “MAL” or “AML,” the trio of Marco Asensio, Alvaro Morata and Lucas Vazquez has outscored the BBC this season, despite playing fewer minutes between them.
While Zidane has maintained that the BBC’s position as guaranteed starters is non-negotiable, having a second string that would be a starting attack on any other team in Spain, save Barcelona, could come in handy if Real find themselves bogged down in Basque country Saturday.
Despite their propensity for giant killing, one other thing Alaves has going for them is an unbeaten home record. They also tend to score goals against the bigger teams, which could create problems for a Real Madrid side that despite its impressive run of 25 games unbeaten, has developed a habit of leaking goals.
Watch Real Madrid taking on Alaves Saturday, October 29 at 10:00am ET on BeINSports.