Don’t forget to recognize David Alaba’s importance

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The summer transfer window was not quite what Madridistas expected. Actually, no one could have predicted this kind of activity in the transfer window. Firstly, Real Madrid signed David Alaba on a free transfer after seeing out his contract at Bayern Munich. Then, our beloved captain Sergio Ramos left the club to join Paris Saint-Germain, and Raphael Varane and Martin Odegaard later joined Manchester United and Arsenal, respectively. Following the unsuccessful attempts of Florentino Perez to sign Kylian Mbappe, Real Madrid managed to sign Eduardo Camavinga from Rennes on the final day of the transfer window.

Everyone predicted that Real Madrid’s defense will be somewhat shaky because of losing both the starting center backs, and they were not wrong. Even I was somewhat scared about the defense. Despite having Eder Militao and David Alaba as the center backs, Real Madrid already conceded 12 goals in the opening 10 games, which is definitely not what you expect from a top club. But the Austrian and the Brazilian slowly got at their best and as you notice, Real Madrid has conceded only 6 goals in the next 8 matches. It is still not a very good figure but sounds better than the first 10 matches.

One change that could be noticed in the past 8 matches is that Ferland Mendy played in these 8 games only. So yes, this does tell that Ferland Mendy is very important to the club and does make an impact. But that doesn’t mean that David Alaba did not have a contribution to the victory. The Austrian has made a great contribution (defensively as well as in attack) in each of the fixtures he has played.

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Statistically speaking, the 29-year-old averages 1.2 tackles and manages to make 2.8 clearances in each of the games he has played in LaLiga. He makes 0.8 interceptions and it is not easy to dribble past him as he gets dribbled past on 0.5 times a game. But there are certain intangibles that the statistics do not show.

If you remember our former captain Sergio Ramos, his impact on the game was not just based on his defensive abilities, but his mere presence was enough to make a difference. He was the leader of the team and that of the defense. He used to motivate all the players to stand strong and give it all. The same is the case for Alaba. He is the leader who motivates the team to push forward and press whenever they can. In the ideal defensive backline of Ferland Mendy, David Alaba, Eder Militao, and Dani Carvajal, Alaba is one of the most experienced defenders. He was a leader at Bayern Munich and the same continues at Los Blancos. As Ali Hassan pointed out, we love him for that.

Real Madrid, David Alaba

Real Madrid, David Alaba (Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images)

David Alaba contributes to the attack, too

Who remembers his goal in El Clasico? An absolute beauty! Who remembers his long ball to set up Karim Benzema’s goal vs Alaves or the one to Benzema against Levante to set up Gareth Bale’s goal? The Austrian may not be the aerial threat Sergio Ramos was, but he can compensate that threat from his creativity and excellence in finishing. He is so good from the set-pieces, specifically the free-kicks, and that he proved that when he scored the free-kick against Sheriff in the last Champions League fixture. Talking statistics (per Whoscored.com), he has 1 goal and 3 assists in the 13 league match he has played so far.

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In the last few matches, we have seen more contribution from Alaba in the attack. His attacking runs in tight areas help Real Madrid steer clear of the opposition’s pressing. But why hasn’t Alaba made those threatening runs in the starting game? Well, in the typical 4-3-3 formation, the two center backs stay back to avoid any counter-attacks, while the full backs join the attack from the flanks. But Carlo Ancelotti has made a slight change in the plan.

If you would have noticed, in the past few matches when David Alaba would join the attack, Carlos Casemiro, who is not as good as Alaba in shooting or creativity moves to the backline to support pair with Eder Militao for the time being. The reason why this gamble by the Italian coach has paid off so far is because of two reasons.

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Firstly, David Alaba has done his job up front successfully so far. He has managed to beat his marker and steer through the midfield and Real Madrid would score most of the time. Secondly, even on the few occasions when it won’t work and the opposition would attempt to counter-attack, Militao and Casemiro would stand strong in defense. Militao offers the pace that is needed to cope up with fast attacks, while Casemiro would use his experience to intercept the dangerous passes that could easily lead to the opposition scoring goals.

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Following another great performance against Sevilla and earning a rating of 7.5 (as awarded by Kevin Parvizi), I think that we must appreciate the Austrian for performing at such a high level and playing some excellent football while being an inspiration for young center backs like Eder Militao and Jesus Vallejo. I absolutely agree with Manas; he is LaLiga’s best signing this season.

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