Real Madrid 3-0 Alavés: match report
Real Madrid beat Alavés at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday afternoon to ensure their status as LaLiga leaders regardless of what Barcelona do on Sunday night against Granada. As Zinedine Zidane rested some of his players after international duty, he was left with a makeshift back four that got a whole lot more makeshift when Raphael Varane had to go off just nine minutes into his return from injury.
Dani Carvajal replaced him and Danilo pushed out to left-back with Nacho moving inside to partner Pepe in the centre. It was a relatively even opening 30 minutes but it was obvious from the start that the home side would create the more meaningful chances.
Karim Benzema, who appeared to be coming back from an offside position, finished from a Dani Carvajal cross to give Real Madrid a lead after 31 minutes and for a spell it would appear as though the home side would not look back.
They came under increasingly more pressure in the second half and as Alavés pushed for an equaliser, the fans at the Bernabeú and some of the players were growing increasingly frustrated. Alavés had their best chance of the game when a cross fell to the impressive Edgar Mendez at the back post but he side-footed wide to let Real Madrid off the hook.
It's the kind of thing you simply can't do against a team as clinical as los Blancos and before too long, Real Madrid had a second through Isco. He was played in perfectly by Cristiano Ronaldo and he absolutely rifled a shot into the roof of the net from a tight angle.
Just three minutes later, Real Madrid were home and hosed when a Gareth Bale free-kick rattled the underside of the bar and Nacho poked a header home to make it three. Alavés, at this point, were out of steam and out of options.
They still sit comfortably mid-table but their opponents on the day have high hopes of their first league title since 2010-11 with this far from routine victory helping them in their search for that elusive title.
As it happened
Real Madrid 3-0 Alavés: second half
Full-time: That's it from the Santiago Bernabeú as Real Madrid run out comfortable winners in an uncomfortable game at times for them.
Min 90+2 | Ely with a header that flashes past Casilla. He knows how close that was. It would have been just a consolation at this late stage though.
Min 90 | Real Madrid with a new lease on life now! They attack with verve, maybe one last time. Ronaldo gets a cross in but it's too long for Bale.
Min 88 | GOAL! GOAL! GOAL! Bale stands over the free-kick and as it strikes the underside of the bar, Nacho arrives on the scene and headers home. Real Madrid three goals to the good now after an underwhelming second half.
Min 88 | Manu Garcia is booked for a foul on Dani Carvajal.
Min 85 | GOAL! Isco absolutely buries it into the roof of the net from a tight angle. Ronaldo with a really nice through ball to put the Spanish midfielder in. Game over at 2-0?
Min 85 | Kovacic changes strategy as, instead of trying to run it into the penalty area, he has a shot from distance. Good idea but Pacheco is not troubled.
Alavés substitution: Camarasa comes off and is replaced by Christian Santos.
Min 83 | Carvajal cross into the danger zone but Bale can't turn it back on target with his outstretched left foot as it hits the side-netting.
Min 82 | Toquero with another cross. Casilla with another catch.
Real Madrid substitution: Karim Benzema is replaced by Lucas Vazquez in Zidane's final move on the chess board.
Min 79 | Race between Theo and Benzema, but the defender reaches it first and touches it back to his goalkeeper.
Min 77 | Benzema finds Ronaldo again and as he finds an angle for himself, the ball bounces just before he shoots and it dribbles well wide.
Min 75 | Deyverson chases down Casilla, who ends up driving the ball out over the sideline.
Alavés substitution: Katai comes on to take Edgar Mendez' place.
Min 74 | Really smart move by Real Madrid that sees Danilo put through down the left. He squares to Ronaldo but his shot is blocked.
Min 72 | Alavés with all the possession now but they still can't turn it into proper chances. They are bound to get one soon though. Bernabeú crowd getting restless now too.
Min 71 | Manu García's turn but he can't get his header on target either. He did his best in an awkward situation but Casilla barely moved as it went wide.
Min 70 | Chance for Alavés but Mandez' first time effort bounces and bobbles it's way to Casilla's waiting arms.
Alavés substitution: Ibai Gomez is replaced by Oscar Romero.
Real Madrid substitution: Kovacic enters the fray in place of Luka Modric.
Min 68 | Another chance for Real Madrid but Ronaldo fires high and wide.
Min 67 | There's that chance again as Mendez throws a cross into Deyverson. He gets decent contact on it this time but he can't get it on target. That came just after another cross by Mendez that was cleared at the first time of asking by Real Madrid.
Min 64 | Ball over the top nearly makes it to Bale but it goes over his head.
Min 62 | That chance might ahave woken Real Madrid up. They are attacking now far more methodically. Kroos in the centre, like the director of an orchestra as he throws the ball around.
Min 60 | Cross by Manu García that falls to Edgar Mendez. He has enough time to take it down, have a think about here he wants to put it and then shoot but he goes with the first-time, side-footed effort and it goes wide. Marking from Real Madrid at the back post was deplorable as they stand looking at each other, trying to figure out what went wrong. By far the best chance of the game for Alavés.
Min 58 | Real Madrid still not looking like getting a second. Alavés don't really look like scoring an equaliser but definitely a brighter performance by the visiting side in the second half.
Min 56 | Deyverson with another header. Manu Garcia whips the cross in this time and the Brazilian barely even gets any glance on it as it skims the top of his head.
Min 54 | Ronaldo has the ball in the back of the net but he was only about 40 yards offside (maybe more like four). Nice through ball by Benzema but just a second too late.
Min 52 | Danilo ends up on his back as he collides with Toquero. He got caught clean in the chest there and remains on the ground.
Min 50 | Modric and Real Madrid break but the Croatian passes the ball to theo Hernandez as he was looking for Dani Carvajal. The Spanish full-back kicks the back of Hernandez' leg and gives away a frustrated free.
Min 47 | Danilo gives it away cheaply. Toquero throws a cross into the box as García collides with Casilla. No free as it looked like he was pushed into the keeper. Hernandez gets the ball back into the box and Deyverson tries to divert the cross towards the goal with his head, but it comes at him too fast and it goes over the bar. Close to an equaliser.
Min 46 | Vamos! Let's go for the second 45.
No changes for either side at the half.
Real Madrid 1-0 Alavés: first half summary
A lukewarm first half performance by both sides with Real Madrid unable to properly trouble Alavés aside from the goal and the visiting side unwilling to attack when they have the opportunity. With a goal disadvantage now, you would expect them to attack Real Madrid more convincingly when you consider this is now a second choice back four of Carvajal, Pepe, Nacho and Danilo on the field for Zinedine Zidane. If they do attack, expect Real Madrid to find more space. This one can only improve.
Real Madrid 1-0 Alavés: first half
Half-time at the Bernabeú.
Min 46 | Ronaldo finds Danilo, who in turn centers it to Bale. His left-footed shot flashes wide as he goes down grabbing his ankle! He is up and looks fine again.
Min 45 | Free to Alavés as Gomez flicks it into the box. Casilla claims.
Min 43 | Modric penalised for a sneaky handball in the penalty area that allows him to keep possession. The referee is watching like a hawk though.
Min 41 | Danilo fouls Camarasa. Alavés desperate now to win the ball back and maybe knock a few seconds off the clock. Ronaldo has a shot that Theo Hernandez blocks as they race out to it on the sideline. Both players stop, looking to see if the linesman has his flag up. when he doesn't raise it Theo tries to make a burst past Ronaldo, slips and the free is given against the Real Madrid player. Moral of that particular little story is to play to the whistle!
Min 40 | That ball in over the top again for Mendez. Casilla straight out to win it back for Real Madrid.
Min 37 | Gomez with a cross into Deyverson but he got too much glance and not enough contact on that one. Decent chance for the visiting side.
Min 37 | A rare foul throw sighting by Danilo.
Min 36 | Ronaldo with a free-kick that looks like it might have been on target but nicks the top of the wall and goes out for another corner. All Real Madrid now. These corners don't seem half as threatening for the opposition without Sergio Ramos on the field though.
Min 34 | A dangerous cross by Bale is headered out of play for a corner with Benzema lurking. Benzema is everywhere today for Real Madrid.
Min 32 | Danilo limps away from a tackle now. Zidane will have to switch to a back three if he is hurt! He seems to be okay though.
Min 31 | GOAL! GOAL! GOAL! Karim Benzema rattles the back of the net with a left-footed shot. Carvajal's cross manages to make its way to the French striker nd he makes no mistake from about 10 yards out.
Min 30 | Modric loses the ball this time. Mendez wins it back before Danilo fouls him. Real Madrid win it back almost immediately. Modric seems to be struggling in the middle - getting closed down easier, not being able to avoid pressure and not as accurate as his usual self.
Min 27 | Ronaldo chases down a lost cause, skips by Toquero and gets the ball onto his right before letting fly with his right foot. Pacheco saves but Modric and Benzema, who were waiting inside are not happy with Ronaldo's decision to go it alone.
Min 25 | Isco with a fancy turn, or two, in the penalty area before trying to curl one beyond Pacheco. He gets his angles wrong and fires wide. Real Madrid have had the better chances but they haven't fashioned anything clear cut just yet. Alavés more than holding their own.
Min 23 | Manu García turns Bale upside down as he swipes his leg from under him. Free Real Madrid.
Min 22 | Alavés win a free in a dangerous position for a cross. Modric penalised for handball but I don't think he knew much about it. Casilla comes out with a punch that started ten yards behind where he made contact with the ball!
Min 20 | Carvajal comes out of nowhere with a shot as Danilo's low cross makes its way across the penalty area. It goes nowhere near its intended target though.
Min 19 | Camarasa gets the ball stolen from him this time and Isco pounces. Bale breaks down the right and wins a corner.
Min 18 | Bale lines up the free with his left but it doesn't even give Pacheco a fright. Well wide and a wasted chance but Alavés will have to learn from that mistake.
Min 17 | Not for the first time, Alavés messing around at the back. Feddal has it stolen off his toe by Ronaldo before Ely pulls him down and gets a yellow card.
Min 16 | Real Madrid counter and Benzema gets a shot away but it's way too high.
Min 15 | Theo Hernandez zips a free into the penalty are before it gets kicked up into the air. Casilla claims over the head of Gareth Bale as it comes back down to earth.
Min 13 | Right! So we know what Alavés' tactic is. Camarasa is playing deep and launching the diagonal ball to Mendez every time he picks it up. Nacho is gone centre-back now with Danilo on the left and Carvajal on the right as Zidane is forced to reshuffle his already shuffled back four.
Real Madrid substitution: Raphael Varane goes off and is replaced by Dani Carvajal. Not immediately clear as to what is wrong with him as he walks off without a limp. Big blow for Zidane's side.
Min 9 | Looks like we could have out first change upcoming. Dani Carvajal is warming up as Varane appears he might be in trouble.
Min 7 | Alavés with the ball on the lawn now and trying to find an opening. None immediately obvious and they have to recycle a number of times befor eIbai Gomez is dispossessed by Isco.
Min 5 | A Ronaldo cross is overhit and it goes over everyone and out for a goal-kick. Lively start as Edgar Mendez nearly goes clear from a ball over the top. Casilla comes out and tempers the danger.
Min 4 | Neat little combination between Danilo and Bale before he feeds it to Benzema and he exchanges passes with Ronaldo. Runs into a dead end though and Alavés manage to scramble it away.
Min 2 | Early sign is that Alavés going to be pressing Real Madrid very, very high up the field. They force an erratic clearance that results in a throw for them at the half-way line.
Min 1 | Manu Garcia gets his pocket picked by Luka Modric and Ronaldo blazes over the bar with a shot.
Min 1 | Lights, camera and action at the Bernabeú.
Real Madrid vs Alavés: team news
Real Madrid XI: Casilla, Danilo, Pepe, Varane, Nacho, Kroos, Benzema, Bale, Modric, Isco, Ronaldo.
Alavés XI: Pacheco, Ely, Laguardia, Feddal, Theo, Camarasa, Manu García, Ibai Gomez, Mendez, Toquero, Deyverson.
Real Madrid vs Alavés: live stream news
16:14 | A lovely gesture at the Santiago Bernabeú with a massive tifo with Juanito celebrating a goal in the stand. On one of the other stand, there is a number seven jersey and it says "We will never forget you".
16:13 | Another rumour is that Victor Camarasa is reportedly an Atletico target. He might be another player keen to impress today with Atletico most likely looking on.
16:12 | As Karim Benzema walks out holding the mascots hand, he offers his free hand to Lucas Vazquez. To be fair, he could pass as a child!
16:03 | Real Madrid are also reportedly very keen on Theo Hernandez and will be scouting him today at the Bernabeú.
16:02 | Real Madrid are unbeaten in nine with their last loss coming against Sevilla in the middle of January. Alavés have won four, drawn one and lost one of their last six games.
15:55 | Real Madrid have the chance to go five clear of Barcelona today with Luis Enrique's side playing Granada in Granada later on tonight. Lose or draw, however, and Barcelona could finish the weekend in first place (Real Madrid have a game in hand against Celta Vigo that must be squeezed into their schedule).
15:45 | Here is a photo gallery of the Real Madrid club legend.
15:38 | 25 years removed from Juanito's death and the Bernabeú faithful plan to mark his tragic death in a traffic accident today at the stadium.
15:35 | Iker Casillas made an excellent double save this weekend to earn Porto a draw. Real Madrid are currently in the middle of, I won't call it a goalkeeping crisis, certainly a dilemma as to what to do with Keylor Navas. According to some reports, there is no dilemma and he is going to be replaced in the summer with David de Gea being lined up.
15:31 | Their record against the current top four is three draws, three losses and a win. They frustrated the living daylights out of Atleti on their last trip to Madrid. The only time they have been beaten by a team in the top four was at Sevilla. A draw against Atletico and a win against Barcelona were the other two results on the road. How will they do at the Bernabeu today on a glorious day in the capital.
15:28 | Alavés are unbeaten in three but their last loss came to Granada. That has been a trend for Alavés this year. They are capable of some inexplicable results both good and bad. They beat Barcelona at the Camp Nou before rolling over and having their bellies tickled when Messi and co. arrived in Vitoria; they were beaten 0-6 that day.
15:21 | Meanwhile, Alavés have named their team. Obviously, Llorente can't play because of his loan deal with the club having a clause in it. Theo Hernandez is on loan from Madrid too, Atletico Madrid that is. He has no such "fear clause" in his contract. His club will be hoping he can inflict as much damage down that left-hand side of the field against Alavés opponents as possible.
15:07 | Real Madrid's team news is in and it is an entirely changed back four and goalkeeper, as expected. Danilo and Nacho will be tasked with stemming Alavés' full back´s ambition. Isco replaces Casemiro meaning they don't have that physicality in the centre while Bale, Benzema and Ronaldo start up front.
14:56 | Report suggest as few as 800 fans will travel to the capital from Alaves this weekend. Those who do travel will be sitting in the north end, and had to shed their wallets of €40 in order to see their team play.
14:51 | It has been 400 days since Real Madrid lost with Isco in the starting team. The last time they did was against Atletico in February 2015. He could start today with Casemiro and James out as we could be looking at a midfield of Isco, Modric and Kovacic.
14:35 | Fancy an outside flutter? Theo Hernandez to opening the scoring at the Bernabeu pays out at am impressive 81/1.
13:09 | Unlikely to happen to either of today's sides but the current situation threatening the future of Hercules CF is alarming.
12:30 | Expect all eyes to be on Alaves defender Theo this afternoon with Real Madrid apparently interested in the French born player as a replacement for Marcelo.
11:15 | Interesting editorial today from Relaño as he muses over both Barcelona and Real Madrid's values and how they are defined.
10:20 | Some big name omissions from Zidane's squad ahead of this afternoon's clash.
10:04 | Good morning and welcome to our build-up ahead of today's game at the Santiago Bernabeu as Alaves are the visitors.
Real Madrid take on Alavés at the Santiago Bernabéu in week 29 of the 2016/17 LaLiga Santander season, with kick-off at 16:15 CEST on Sunday April 2nd 2017.
Real Madrid vs Alavés: match preview
Club football is back following the international break, and leaders Real get a chock-a-block April underway against an Alavés team enjoying one hell of a campaign.
Zinedine Zidane's side are steeling themselves for a month that brings nine games in 28 days: a period that features league clashes with Atlético Madrid and Barcelona, and a Champions League quarter-final tie with Bayern Munich.
It's little wonder, then, that on Saturday the Frenchman spoke of his delight at resuming work after international week with a fully fit squad at his disposal.
However, Real will be without banned midfielder Casemiro for Alavés' first league visit to the Bernabéu since 2006, while captain Sergio Ramos is to be rested.
As LaLiga approaches its business end, Madrid have the chance to go provisionally five points clear of Barça (who play later in the day) and, with a game in hand still to come, take another step closer to a first title since 2012.
Under Mauricio Pellegrino, Alavés have had an impressive first season back in Primera after a decade away, establishing themselves in mid-table with 40 points.
It's a campaign that has also seen El Glorioso book a maiden Copa del Rey final appearance, in which they'll meet holders Barcelona at the end of May.
And Alavés may have lost 4-1 at home to Real in LaLiga in October, but when it comes to facing the division's big guns on the road, they have an excellent record.
After grabbing a dramatic opening-day draw at Atlético, the Basques then beat Barça at the Camp Nou in September, while only a last-gasp strike denied them a point at Sevilla the following month.
But despite travelling to Madrid having won two on the bounce in LaLiga, Alavés' optimism is tempered by the unavailability of anchorman Marcos Llorente.
Llorente, who is on loan from Real, has been a rock in the midfield this season, but the dreaded 'fear clause' precludes his involvement against his parent club.
Real Madrid vs Alavés: live online bet on the match
It's fair to say that Real Madrid are the bookies' favourites - the home side are slightly above evens to win, while Alavés are 23/1 to take the three points.