Real Madrid’s 2021-22 LaLiga campaign will begin with a trip to Alaves on Saturday night, with new head coach Carlo Ancelotti preparing to lead the team into a new era. The Los Blancos will be keen to clinch all three points but face a tricky opponent in the form of Alaves.
Last season, LaLiga produced a thrilling three-way title race between heavyweights Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, and Barcelona, which concluded with Atletico emerging victorious by edging past their city rivals by fine margins.
• A New Era Begins
We will witness something new this season as Lionel Messi will not feature in LaLiga for the first time in 17 years after his shock exit from Barcelona. On the other hand, Real has financial problems of their own as their club captain, Sergio Ramos, has also left the club to join PSG alongside Lionel Messi. Raphael Varane has also left the club as he joins Manchester United after serving 10 years at the club.
However, Los Blancos have pulled off a superb signing as David Alaba joins the club as a free agent. Madrid will be keen to land Kylian Mbappe this summer or next season for free when his contract runs out. The attention now turns towards the league as LaLiga returns to action on Friday night. The last league encounter between these sides was in January, as Real Madrid outclassed Alaves with a well-deserved 4-1 win at Mendizorrotza.
• All Eyes on Ancelotti
Zinedine Zidane announced his departure after the trophy-less season but that wasn’t rumoured to be the reason for his exit, the board lost its confidence in Zizou and with his continuity being discussed publicly he opted to leave. Thus, Madrid has recalled Carlo Ancelotti from Everton as his replacement, who will enjoy his second spell at the club.
With a new man at the helm, the 34–time champions are expected to retrieve domestic supremacy. After finishing just two points off to city rivals Atletico Madrid, Ancelotti has something to build on this term despite a dry summer window and will be determined to put up three points on the board. But the preparations for the new season have been far from ideal due to the unavailability of regular starters and recurring injuries.
The Men in White were very underwhelming in this year’s pre-season as they failed to register a win against Scottish Champions Rangers (1-2) and AC Milan (0-0). The Basques, on the other hand, ended their pre-season with two consecutive wins over Al Nasr (4-3) and Levante (1-0) and will aim for a positive result against Real Madrid. Alaves are always a tough nut to crack away from home and have caused many upsets for the heavyweights of LaLiga.
• Team News
The likes of Gareth Bale, Martin Ødegaard, and Dani Ceballos return to the club after completing their loan spells at Spurs and Arsenal respectively. David Alaba is Real’s only signing in this transfer window.
Last season, Madrid suffered a lot with repetitive injuries to multiple players in the squad. That trend seems to continue as Kroos, Mendy, Odriozola, Ceballos, and Carvajal are already ruled out for this game. Meanwhile, Hazard and Benzema return to training, hoping to make the turnaround to play on Matchday 1.
We will see some new faces in the Basque outfit, as new arrivals Manu Garcia, Florian Lejeune, Mamadou Loum, Ivan Martin will hope to register some minutes against the capital giants. Facundo Pellistri also makes his return from Manchester United, after a healthy loan spell last season.
• Key Players to Watch Out for
Alavés’s Joselu is the main man for the Basque outfit and has boasted an impressive record against Real Madrid, scoring five times in six games.
For Madrid, Alaba’s versatility brings a lot more than just a defensive center-back to this injury-prone side. After an impressive debut against Milan, he is expected to take the charge of the new backline on his LaLiga debut.
• Match Prediction
Javier Calleja’s side will seize pressure on Madrid from the start and will take their chances when they break away on counter-attacks. Meanwhile, Madrid will enter this match with several absentees, but they possess the quality to turn this game in their favour. We expect a tight contest between both teams, but we lean towards Los Blancos as they certainly have an edge when it comes to quality.
Scoreline Prediction: Alaves 1:2 Real Madrid.