Eden Hazard picked up another injury as Real Madrid were beaten 2-1 by Alaves in La Liga on Saturday, their third league defeat in 10 games to open the season.
— Report: Real Madrid stunned at home by Alaves
The visitors went ahead inside the first five minutes when Lucas Perez scored a penalty after Nacho’s handball. Hazard had a penalty appeal of his own waved away before Thibaut Courtois prevented Perez from doubling Alaves’ lead.
Things got worse for Real when Hazard limped off with 28 minutes played, and there was still time in a busy first half for Marcelo to be denied a penalty when Victor Laguardia pulled his hair. In the second half, Joselu scored a second after a misplaced pass from Courtois. Casemiro grabbed a late goal from close range, but Alaves hung on to win away at Real Madrid for the first time in over 20 years.
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It’s hard to find any positives for Real Madrid on a night like this. They were beaten at home by an unfancied opponent, potentially losing any optimism and momentum gained from the Champions League win away at Internazionale.
They have some excuses, at least — no Sergio Ramos, no Karim Benzema, no Dani Carvajal – and a late fightback gave some encouragement. With nine games coming up in 33 days, they’ll have the chance to make it right soon enough.
Madrid’s inconsistency — losing to Cadiz, Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia and now Alaves in recent weeks, while beating Barcelona and Inter — is worrying. Coach Zinedine Zidane denies there’s a problem of attitude or effort, but it’s hard to ignore that the defeats tend to come against so-called weaker teams.
Hazard’s latest injury, which early reports suggest is a thigh problem, is another concern. His stop-start Real Madrid career keeps stalling every time it looks like it might finally be bursting into life.
Oh, and Madrid need to stop conceding penalties, too. Before this month, they hadn’t seen a La Liga opponent score from the penalty spot in almost a year. A wild November has now seen them concede five penalty goals in their last three games.
Manager rating out of 10
5 — Zidane made three changes from the team that beat Inter in midweek, with Marcelo, Casemiro and Marco Asensio coming in. Zidane keeps giving Marcelo chances, and the Brazilian keeps disappointing. Asensio hasn’t rewarded the coach’s faith lately, either.
It didn’t help that Zidane was forced into an early change with Hazard’s injury and had used all five substitutions before 70 minutes, as he desperately tried to turn the match around without success.
Casemiro, center, worked tirelessly but was seemingly by himself as Real Madrid slumped to defeat. Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Thibaut Courtois, 6 — Went the right way for Perez’s penalty, then made an excellent save from the same player, standing up tall to palm away the shot. That good work was undone by a dreadful mistake for Alaves’ second goal, although he went on to make some fine saves.
DF Lucas Vazquez, 7 — One of Real Madrid’s best players. Active in attack and defence, and never stopped running. One or two deliveries from the right did miss the target.
DF Raphael Varane, 6 — Sometimes found himself almost alone at the back, a nightmare situation for any defender, as he did his best to deal with Alaves’ counter-attacks while Madrid looked to pull a goal back.
DF Nacho, 6 — Gave away the early penalty when he raised an arm. Otherwise didn’t look nearly as comfortable as he did against Inter. Often caught out of position.
DF Marcelo, 5 — One statistic says it all: Marcelo has started in all of Real Madrid’s defeats this season. He could have won a bizarre penalty when his hair was pulled by Laguardia before half-time.
MF Casemiro, 7 — Picked up an early yellow card, never stopped battling, and scored a goal late on to give Real Madrid some hope. Another of their better performers.
MF Toni Kroos, 6 — His set piece deliveries led to some of Madrid’s most dangerous moments in the first half. Had several shots, all saved, before being taken off.
MF Luka Modric, 6 — Always has his moments, such as one elegant first-half change of direction to find space. Not as influential as we’re used to seeing, and got tired later.
FW Marco Asensio, 5 — One great cross just after half time. But absolutely nothing before or after that. Taken off after an hour. His lack of form is increasingly worrying.
FW Eden Hazard, 6 — One nice moment in the first half, winning the ball and driving upfield before testing keeper Pacheco and then having a penalty appeal rejected. Went off before half an hour had been played with an apparent thigh injury.
FW Mariano Diaz, 6 — Had some chances, including a first-half header straight at Pacheco, and another he put over the bar. Sometimes a little clumsy.
FW Rodrygo Goes, 6 — Chosen to replace Hazard. Went close with one second-half shot across goal.
FW Vinicius Junior, 5 — Replaced Asensio, but didn’t make an impact.
MF Isco, 7 — One or two nice touches and moves. Could have got a dramatic equaliser, hitting the bar with a shot in the last few seconds.
DF Ferland Mendy, 6 — Came on for Marcelo in a difficult situation.
MF Martin Odegaard, 6 — Looked desperate to impress and was involved when he first came on, but dropped off after that.