UNDER PRESSURE: Troubled Madrid seek redemption against Alaves

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Real Madrid will be looking to bounce back from two disappointing defeats when they continue their 2020-21 La Liga campaign away to struggling Alaves tonight. The reigning La Liga champions will be without their coach Zinedine Zidane after tested positive for Covid-19, yesterday. The positive test comes a day before Madrid travel to Alaves in La Liga seeking to bounce back from an embarrassing midweek Copa del Rey exit.

Zidane has already had to self-isolate this month after coming into contact with a person infected with the virus.

He tested negative at the time and was able to oversee the team.

After successive defeats in the Spanish Super Cup and Copa del Rey, the second a shock loss to third-tier Alcoyano, Zidane is again under pressure, and Real Madrid will try to reignite their La Liga title challenge away to Alaves.

Alaves are in their fifth straight season at this level of football, but it does appear that it will be a struggle for the Basque outfit to retain their status as a top-flight club for the 2021-22 campaign.

Pablo Machin was sacked as head coach earlier this month following a poor run of form, with Abelardo Fernandez now in charge of the club, but the 50-year-old has been unable to oversee a change of fortunes thus far, losing his two games at the helm against Almeria and Sevilla.

Alaves were actually thumped 5-0 by second-tier outfit Almeria in the Copa del Rey on January 16, but there was certainly an improvement in their 2-1 home defeat to Sevilla in the league on Tuesday night.

El Glorioso have won four, drawn six and lost nine of their 19 league matches this season to sit 17th, just one point clear of 18th -placed Elche, who have two games in hand over the side directly above them.

Madrid, meanwhile, are currently on an eight-game unbeaten run in La Liga, which has seen them rise into second spot in the table, four points behind leaders Atletico Madrid, who have two matches in hand. Zinedine Zidane’s side were held to a goalless draw by Osasuna in their last league game on January 9, though, before suffering two damaging defeats in quick succession.

Indeed, Los Blancos lost 2-1 to Athletic Bilbao in the semi-finals of the Spanish Super Cup on January 14 before incredibly going down 2-1 to third-tier side Alcoyano in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday.

Zidane selected a relatively strong XI for the cup match, but a team including the likes of Marcelo, Isco, Lucas Vazquez, Vinicius Junior and Federico Valverde came up short on the night.

Madrid will fancy their chances of returning to winning ways in the league, although they suffered a 2-1 defeat to Alaves when the two teams locked horns in the reverse match back in November.

In a related development, new date has been confirmed for the outstanding La Liga fixture between Real Madrid and Getafe.

The match at the Alfredo di Stefano stadium will now be held on 9 February with a 9pm CET kick-off time, as per Marca.

The new date has been confirmed due to Madrid’s shock elimination from the Copa del Rey, which is dominating Real Madrid news this week, meaning that they now have a free midweek along with Los Azulones – who are also no longer in the competition.

It means Los Blancos will face Jose Bordalas’s side just three days after their trip to Huesca and in the midweek slot before they host Valencia while Getafe now have an incredibly tough week – travelling to Sevilla days before this clash before hosting Real Sociedad the following weekend.

Madrid are unbeaten against Getafe in their last 13 meetings, dating back to August 2012.

The game will be held on the night following Atletico Madrid hosting Celta Vigo as the title race in the division heats up.

Meanwhile, Unai Emery’s high-flying Villarreal side will travel to Aragon ahead of their weekend La Liga clash with Huesca at the Estadio El Alcoraz.

Villarreal, who are currently fourth in the league, will expect to come away from this encounter with all three points, with hosts Huesca currently languishing at the foot of the table.

Emery’s men were unlucky not to beat Granada in the league earlier this week, after veteran striker Paco Alcacer saw his stoppage-time penalty saved by Granada keeper Rui Silva.

The enthralling matchup ended 2-2, with the Yellow Submarine picking up just a single point as their quest to secure Champions League football rumbles on.

The disappointment of that tie aside, Villarreal have been playing some really impressive football this season, exemplified by the fact that they have not yet been bested at El Madrigal.

However, Villarreal’s away form has been more of a point of concern for Emery, with the team only picking up 13 points on their travels so far this season.

Fortunately for Emery, his side boasts one of the best defensive records in the league, having only lost two games all season. It would take a lot for Huesca to find a way past the stolid defensive partnership of Pau Torres and Raul Albiol.

A change of manager has not, as of yet, prompted a change in fortunes for Huesca, with new boss Pacheta unable to find that all-important league win against Getafe last time out.

Only time will tell if the former Elche coach was the correct choice and Pacheta certainly has a lot of work to do if he will succeed in escaping the drop.

Huesca’s last, and only, win came back in mid-December, when they beat Alaves 1-0 at El Alcoraz. Since then, the club have picked up just one point from a possible 18.

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