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Real Madrid defender David Alaba acknowledges his poor performance in derby defeat to Atlético Madrid

Former Bayern man Alaba lost Álvaro Morata for two of Atleti’s three goals at the Metropolitano but has vowed to bounce back.

Former Bayern man Alaba lost Álvaro Morata for two of Atleti’s three goals at the Metropolitano but has vowed to bounce back.
Rodrigo JimenezEFE

“It wasn’t my game,” claimed Real Madrid defender David Alaba on social media on Monday following his team’s 3-1 derby defeat to Atlético Madrid. And he’s not wrong. The Austrian had one of his worst matches in a white jersey at the Metropolitano, allowing Álvaro Morata (twice) and Antoine Griezmann to get away from him as the hosts powered to victory.

The Madrid defence, as a whole, struggled to deal with Atleti’s attacking intensity, but the former Bayern Munich was especially culpable due to a lack of concentration and indecision. Uncharacteristic from a player who has been so consistent for Los Blancos since making the move from the Bundesliga.

Morata runs off Alaba for opening goal for Atleti

The home side’s first goal, scored after just three minutes, was perhaps the most obvious error, with Alaba seemingly completely unaware of the positioning of Morata, who drifted in behind him to head Samuel Lino’s left-wing cross beyond Kepa. A perfect example of ball-watching, with the centre-back neither stepping up to play the striker offside nor tracking his man.

Madrid were undone again in similar fashion just over 10 minutes later, with another ball into the box from the left, this time from Saúl, converted by Griezmann. This time, Morata’s near-post run was tracked by Alaba but opened up space right in front of goal for the Frenchman, whose well-placed header found the bottom corner. By now, Los Merengues were facing an uphill battle.

Austrian beaten by Morata’s superb movement after half time

Toni Kroos’ thunderbolt towards the end of the first half gave Carlo Ancelotti’s side hope but it proved to be short lived. And it was a case of history repeating itself seconds after half time, as Saúl yet whipped another cross in from the left and Alaba was totally bamboozled by the excellent movement of Morata, who was all alone to head in his second and Atleti’s third. The defender’s immediate reaction suggested he was trying to pass the blame on to teammates Eduardo Camavinga and Fran García, which didn’t sit well with some supporters.

Alaba’s concerning stats in Madrid derby

Beyond the three goals conceded, Alaba’s numbers from the game as a whole don’t make for especially happy reading for anyone of a Real Madrid persuasion. The 31-year-old only won a single duel (one-on-one battle with an opposition player) across the 90 minutes, and only took part in two, a bizarrely low number for a defender, especially given the opposition.

Admittedly, Alaba has always been known more for his composure and ability on the ball than his defensive aggression and intensity, which his centre-back partners have been able to make up for. The Austrian has formed a successful partnership with Eder Militão for that reason, but the Brazilian is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines because of an ACL tear. Antoinio Rüdiger has come in as Militão’s replacement and can, in theory, play a similar role to the former Porto centre-back, although the German and Alaba were badly exposed by Atleti.

David Alaba is keen to make up for Real Madrid's derby defeat to Atlético Madrid.
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David Alaba is keen to make up for Real Madrid's derby defeat to Atlético Madrid.

Still one of the first names on Ancelotti’s team sheet

Alaba is now in his third season in Spain and, after a hugely successful first campaign, had a rather more challenging 2022-23, although Ancelotti never lost faith in him. The former Bayern star missed almost a third of the season due to injury but was always selected for Madrid’s biggest games when available. And it seems as if he remains one of the first names on the team sheet, with no player on the roster having had more time since the beginning of the season (630 minutes).

“We let you down yesterday but we will fight back and we will come back to what Real Madrid is!”, concluded Alaba’s Instagram post. He and his team have an immediate opportunity to do as he says when they host Las Palmas in LaLiga on Wednesday.