Alaves ensured that they would play La Liga football for a sixth straight season courtesy of a 16th-place finish in Spain’s top flight last term, but it was far from a comfortable campaign for the Basque outfit. A record of nine wins, 11 draws and 18 defeats from 38 matches saw them collect 38 points, which left them just four points above the relegation zone, and in truth, it would not be a surprise to see the team in and around the bottom three towards the end of the 2021-22 campaign.Javier Calleja’s side have played a lot of football this summer, taking part in seven friendlies, including a 1-0 victory over Levante in their final pre-season match on August 6.
Alaves have also been busy in terms of incomings, with Toni Moya, Taichi Hara, Ivan Martin, Manu Garcia, Florian Lejeune, Mamadou Loum and Facundo Pellistri all arriving at the club either on permanent deals or on loan, with Pellistri returning from Manchester United after a successful spell last term. El Glorioso picked up 24 points from their 19 home league matches last season but will be welcoming a Real Madrid side that had the best away record in Spain’s top flight in 2020-21, and Carlo Ancelotti will be desperate to pick up all three points on his return to the Los Blancos dugout.
Real Madrid were criticised for long stages of last season, and the fact that they ended the campaign without winning one of the three major trophies on offer – Copa del Rey, La Liga, Champions League – was certainly a disappointment. Ancelotti is back for a second spell at the helm, having taken the place of Zinedine Zidane; the Italian was previously in charge between 2013 and 2015, winning the Copa del Rey, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup during a successful period.
The club’s financial problems mean that it has been a quiet summer, with David Alaba their only incoming, but both Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane have been allowed to move on, meaning that there will be a new look to the team during the 2021-22 campaign. Real Madrid have only actually played two pre-season friendlies, losing to Rangers before drawing with AC Milan, and they will be missing a number of important players on Saturday night, meaning that it could be an uncomfortable start to the campaign for the Spanish giants.