Real Madrid were stunned 2-1 by Deportivo Alaves and lost Eden Hazard to another injury as Zinedine Zidane witnessed a horror show from his team. (More Football News)
Lucas Perez and Joselu struck as Madrid suffered a third defeat in their opening 10 LaLiga games this season, their title defence getting off to a rocky start.
Madrid had played 15 previous home games against Alaves in LaLiga, winning 14 of those. They lost the other game, a 1-0 setback in May 2000, but the Santiago Bernabeu was a fortress that Alaves had found hard to crack.
With Madrid in their temporary home of the Alfredo di Stefano stadium this season, it was a completely different story. Despite Casemiro grabbing a late consolation, coach Zidane was left to pick up the pieces from a worrying performance.
3 - Real Madrid have lost three of their last five home games in all competitions (W2), as many defeats as in their previous 31 matches at home (W22 D6 L3). Drift. pic.twitter.com/hQRUIgzlzL— OptaJose (@OptaJose) November 28, 2020
Alaves were handed a fifth-minute penalty when Victor Laguardia's header struck Nacho on the upper arm, and Perez found the left corner with a confident strike from the spot.
Madrid keeper Thibaut Courtois then prevented a second goal, producing a sharp stop to palm away a chip from Perez who got in behind the Madrid defence.
A hobbling Hazard, meanwhile, had to be substituted just before the half-hour mark, his wretched run of luck continuing. Moments earlier he had taken a fall in the Alaves penalty area.
Toni Kroos was denied by a fine double save from Fernando Pacheco, after a shambolic attempt by Alaves to walk the ball out of defence from a goal kick.
But Madrid were counting the cost of Kroos missing out as Alaves stretched their lead in the 49th minute. Courtois tried to pick a pass to Casemiro, but it was never on and Joselu stole in to intercept and side-foot into the empty net from 25 yards.
Perez was denied by Courtois as the former Deportivo La Coruna and Arsenal striker again breached the home backline, before Joselu then sent a thumping drive just wide of the top left corner as the two goalscorers combined.
Shots from Rodrygo and Lucas Vazquez went narrowly wide as Madrid sought a way back into the game. Casemiro netted from close range after 86 minutes but they could not force a late leveller, Isco going close when he clipped the top of the crossbar in the sixth minute of additional time.
What does it mean? Madrid struggle without dynamic duo
Without Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos, this Madrid team appear to be rudderless. The sooner the veteran pair return from injury, the better for Zidane, but others should have stood up to the modest threat posed by Alaves.
Courtois dropped a clanger and his fellow Belgian Hazard might be facing another stretch on the sidelines, so it was a shocker all round. That 4-1 thrashing by Valencia in early November should have been a wake-up call, but Madrid were again dire here. A late equaliser would have flattered them.
Madrid make Perez look a world-beater
Perez was terrific, revelling in the space afforded him by Madrid's defence and looking like a top-class forward on the counter-attack. He had more touches (56) than any Alaves team-mate, won seven of the 10 duels he contested, sent in eight crosses, five more than anyone else in Alaves' blue and white strip, and had four shots, which among the visiting players was matched only by Joselu.
Together, Perez and Joselu made Madrid's defence look scarily poor at times.
Modric fails to step up
The Madrid backline was collectively awful, but they were toothless in midfield for much of the game too. Modric, a Ballon d'Or winner two years ago, was ineffective. The 35-year-old was substituted after 69 minutes, having contributed lamentably little to proceedings.
Modric played 43 passes with an accuracy rate of 83.7 per cent - he is typically 89-91 per cent accurate - and rarely brought his ability and experience to bear on an occasion that, pun unavoidable, passed him by.
Key Opta facts
- Madrid have conceded at least one penalty goal in three consecutive LaLiga games for the first time in the 21st century.
- Lucas Perez has scored seven of the eight penalties he has taken for Alaves in LaLiga. Only Javi Moreno (8) has scored more from the spot for the club in the competition since 1998-99.
- Madrid have conceded their first goal from outside the box in LaLiga since May 2019 against Villarreal (Gerard Moreno).
- Joselu has scored four goals in five games against Madrid in LaLiga, including a brace for Deportivo La Coruna at Santiago Bernabeu in December 2016.
- Pablo Machin has become the second manager to win twice against Zinedine Zidane in LaLiga, after Quique Setien, and the first to do so for different teams (Girona and Alaves).
Madrid have a Champions League trip to face Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday, while Alaves are back in LaLiga action when they host high-flying Real Sociedad on the Sunday of next weekend.
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine