La Liga Analysis Continues With Babazorros El Glorioso
Alaves are, as usual, in the basement of LaLiga. Resting at eighteenth in LaLiga and grappling with their elimination from Copa del Rey action, the Babazorros require big changes. Although three winter window deals saw Alaves break their bank for depth and quality, is it too late?
With Joselu carrying the northern Spanish sides in terms of scoring, Alaves will need to have a backup plan if the talisman gets injured. Is a change in tactics also be needed? And when will Alaves snap its winless streak? All of these questions are answered below.
29-year-old Spaniard Fernando Pacheco is the first-choice keeper for the Babazorros. An ex-Madrid stopper, Pacheco is doing well for his side. Barring a horrendous save percentage(61.5%), his stats are ok. He has four clean sheets, 26 goals allowed, and a 66.7% save percentage. His backups, Antonio Sivera and Jesus Owono did decently in their limited minutes, it is obvious that Pacheco is the man for Alaves
It is hard to blame Pacheco when his defense concedes simple goals on the regular. Excepting players like Ruben Duarte, Matt Miazga, and Victor Laguardia, the defense will need an injection of talent. The loan deal of Nahuel Tenaglia will help a little bit.
Lazio loanee Gonzalo Escalante will strengthen an inconsistent midfield. With Luis Rioja having played 1,669 minutes this season, a shift in responsibility will need to be addressed. There needs to be variety in Alaves’ lineups. Is fatigue playing a factor in Alaves’ failures?
Last up is Alaves’ attack. It is led by Joselu, a former Newcastle attacker. Joselu is scoring ten goals, fourth in LaLiga. Joselu’s talent stems from soccer intelligence and a knack for natural positioning. He also assisted twice in Alaves’ LaLiga campaign. Yet Joselu is the only forward to score(aside from Rioja, who is mainly a midfielder) and one of a measly five to score overall for Alaves. This issue needs to be fixed. Alaves recently bought right-winger Jason for free. Supporters will watch intently to see if the former Valencia winger can make a difference offensively.
Like many low-tier Spanish sides, Alaves usually lines up in a traditional 4-4-2. With their aim to restrict as many goals as possible, Alaves’ conservative lineup usually gets the job done. Yet with the pros of frustrating opponents, there come cons as well. Alaves are not able to get on the scoreboard a lot, and a big part of that is because of its lineup.
LAST 5 GAMES
A Copa del Rey shock saw third-tier team Linares Deportivo deal a loss and elimination to the Babazorros. Linares got straight to business, scoring in the middle of the first half. A nineteenth-minute score from Jon Extaniz put Linares up by one. Thankfully for Alaves supporters, Mamadou Sylla equalized later in the second half. Yet Sylla’s strike was not enough to rescue Alaves from elimination. Later, Nando Copete would score Linares’s second goal to see the side through to the round of 32. Alaves was not alone in its misery. Clubs like Levante, Granada, and Getafe also were knocked out.
Rayo’s pair of first-half goals was enough to keep Alaves at bay. Alaves allowed twenty shots in this match, a signal of its need for change. By the 19th minute, an already-exhausted Alaves allowed the first goal of the game. Rayo forward Sergi scored. A short time later, Alejandro Catena scored to widen Rayo’s lead. Although Rayo continued to attack Alaves, their lead was so expansive that they did not need to do much else. The loss saw Alaves in even greater need of momentum.
An uncharacteristically high-scoring match saw Villarreal put five past a flailing Alaves. Spanish international Gerard Moreno and Senegalese star Boulaye Dia each scored in the first half. Although Pere Pons and Joselu each scored shortly after, the Yellow Submarine pulled away in the dying minutes of the game. Yeremy Pino, Moreno, and Dia added three goals to the scoreboard to send Alaves home without a point.
In a low-scoring match with LaLiga contenders Real Sociedad, Alaves held their opponents to a sole goal. Adran Januzaj scored early to put the Europa League participants ahead in the first half. Januzaj’s score and brilliant play from La Real was the only thing preventing parity in the highly-contested match. Yet a Joselu penalty gave the Babazorros their fourth draw.
Alaves endured a bloody and scoreless stalemate against Athletic Club. Each side tallied a similar number of shots, yet calculated Athletic Club should have won the game. A lack of clinical finishing doomed Athletic to a sole point, while a sturdy Alaves escaped with their 17th point. Yet it was not the result the Babazorros were looking for. The draw extended Alaves’ winless streak to seven games.
DOWN THE STRETCH
With Alaves resting in relegation territory, the second half of LaLiga will undoubtedly be important to their campaign. They will need momentum, grit, and motivation to beat their fellow relegation candidates. Yet the most important games will be the basement battles.
Teams like Elche, Getafe, Mallorca, and others will alter whether Alaves moves into the Segunda Division or not. Alaves’ forwards need to step up as the final half of LaLiga commences.
Deolu Akingbade is profiling all 20 La Liga squads weekly exclusively for ThePyrrhic.com
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