Real Madrid find peace in Vitoria

It was Alavés’ centenary with Real Madrid as the visiting team and the club celebrated the moment with Javier Berasaluce, the former goalkeeper had played for both clubs during the 1950s. Alavés sold him to Di Stéfano’s Real Madrid where he provided excellent service as the team’s reserve keeper during the club’s golden age. He was there, now aged 90, in a wheelchair, accompanied by his granddaughter kitted out in her Alavés shirt with the number 100 on the back to take the honorary kick-off. It was a wonderful gesture, as was the idea to adorn the scoreboard with a large photo of a club employee who has served the club for half a century, Donato Díaz Villaluenga. It was a party in an empty stadium, but it was a date which Alavés were going to remember and honour as best as they could.

Benzema at his best

They also tried to do that out on the pitch and for a while it was working well. They harried Madrid whenever they tried to advance from their half and enjoyed the first chances of the game. But as the match wore on, Madrid started to find a way through, their midfield began controlling the game and turned it in their favour. Modric was as spritely and dynamic as ever – as was Benzema. After an excellent start to the season, the French striker suffered a slight dip but he’s back to top form again. Once again he was back to being inspired forward and contributed with two goals, Madrid’s best goals on the night. The other two were largely down to negligence by Alavés’ defence. For the opening goal which came from a corner, Lejeune didn’t challenge Casemiro for the ball. In the third, the team was caught going forward, Kroos intercepted and sent a raking pass over to an unmarked Hazard for a simple finish.

Madrid's attack too reliant on Benzema

Alavés attempted to make amends in the second half by bringing on Lucas Pérez and two other subs, but a consolation goal was all they could muster. They were not a great worry for Madrid, who have bought some peace with this 1-4 result. Zidane’s high-ranking players will never let him down but there are question marks over the team’s attack, where there is a gulf in quality between Benzema and the rest. Asensio did nothing yesterday, and while Hazard stirred things up and grabbed a goal, but he is still a million miles away from the player we knew at Chelsea. When Benzema is on song he resolves the team’s misgivings in attack all on his own, but he cannot be expected to do it always.