Devastated by losses and in the midst of a crisis in results, Real Madrid visits Mendizorroza with an unexpected protagonist. After three decades in the shadow of Zinedine Zidane, his faithful friend and close collaborator David Bettoni will take the reins of the Chamartín team because of the positive for the Marseilles coronavirus. A new setback for whites, who are looking for a balm after saying goodbye to two titles in the space of six days and in the process ruining the centenary of Alavés, which a century after its glorious foundation on January 23, 1921 will blow out the candles with the objective of moving away from the relegation places and achieving Abelardo’s first win of the second stage on the Vitorian bench.
The waters run rough in Valdebebas due to the irregular performance of a team capable of successfully passing the most demanding revalidations and failing examinations of apparent procedure. Imperial against Barcelona, Sevilla, Atlético, Inter Milan or Borussia Mönchengladbach, Real Madrid nevertheless accumulates seven defeats at this stage of the season, the same ones that it collected at the end of last year. All of them against a priori affordable opponents who took advantage of the impotence of the whites when it came to disarming rivals ordered to fill the current league champion with scars. Among those who fished in that troubled river is precisely Alavés, who stormed the Alfredo Di Stéfano stadium on the eleventh day with goals from Lucas Pérez and Joselu to seal one of the two triumphs that the Albiazules have started at home so far championship.
The loud hits against Shakhtar, twice, Cádiz, Valencia, Alavés and Athletic had their peak on Wednesday in El Collao, where a team full of substitutes who still do not measure up succumbed to the modest Alcoyano and wrote a new episode one of those ‘Tales from the crypt’ that the Copa del Rey has become for Real Madrid. The magnitude of the hecatomb has placed Zidane at the feet of the horses. But the coach, skilled as few when it comes to resurgence, will not be able to show off his skills as a conjurer on this occasion, hit by the claw of the covid-19, and will have to wait for his pupils to straighten the course in his absence so as not to give up more ground with respect to Atlético, seven points already in the table.
It will not be an easy company, because the lack of the coach is joined by six casualties in the visiting team. Sergio Ramos and Carvajal are not yet fully recovered from the physical mishaps they drag, and neither are Rodrygo, who is not expected until March. Nacho is still in quarantine after being in contact with a positive for coronavirus and Odegaard has his bags packed, tired of not appearing in Zidane’s plans. The last to fall was Valverde, who was diagnosed this Friday with a muscle injury in the adductor longus of his right leg that has stopped him again in a campaign in which he did not finish displaying the virtues that made him a regular eleven months ago , weighed down by injuries and the French coach’s absolute faith in the triumvirate that has dominated the white midfield with an iron fist for more than five years.
Thus, Bettoni will recover the bulk of the white praetorians for an eleven in which Lucas Vázquez, Militao and Casemiro will be the only survivors among those who started off against Alcoyano. In the call they repeat the central Víctor Chust and the midfielder Antonio Blanco, two ‘blackbirds’ whom Zidane already took to Alcoy and which his assistant has had to resort to to complete the expedition through the infirmary population.
In front will be an Alavés that has only harvested one of the last twelve points. The bad trajectory took Machín ahead and Abelardo has not managed to redirect the babazorro team for the moment. He made his debut by fitting a ‘little hand’ against Almería in the Cup and gave up against Sevilla in the League, with a penalty missed by Joselu in the final stretch of the match. The Asturian recovers Lucas Pérez, who missed the last four matches due to ankle discomfort, although the Galician will await his turn on the bench. “I am convinced that we are going to wage war,” proclaimed the Pitu.
Pacheco, Ximo Navarro, Laguardia, Lejeune, Duarte, Martín, Pina, Battaglia, Luis Rioja, Édgar Méndez and Joselu.
- Real Madrid:
Courtois, Lucas Vázquez, Varane, Militao, Mendy, Casemiro, Modric, Kroos, Asensio, Benzema and Hazard.
Hernández Hernández (Committee of Las Palmas).