Chelsea and Liverpool target shines on first start for 169 days

Xabi Alonso

Xabi Alonso made his first La Liga start of the season for Real Madrid in a 3-2 win against Rayo Vallecano.

In fact it was his first start for 169 days as Carlo Ancelotti looked to make a couple of changes to his side to protect players ahead of a potentially very difficult Champions League tie against Juventus this week.

The good news for Real Madrid, and the bad news for Chelsea and Liverpool, is that he got stuck in and played well before he was taken off at half-time by Carlo Ancelotti and replaced by Asier Illarramendi.

The one stat which stands out from Alonso’s 45 minutes is that he managed to complete a higher percentage of passes with his time on the pitch than any other Real Madrid player.

His passing success rate of 88% was 10% higher than Sergio Ramos and significantly higher than Luka Modric, Angel di Maria and the man who replaced him Illarramendi.

He did make fewer passes than both Modric and di Maria but that was simply because he spent less time on the pitch.

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He also completed every long ball he attempted during his 45 minutes and his one key cross during the game found its target.

It was always going to be difficult for Ancelotti to reintegrate him into the team as he’s spent so long out of the side but that simple stat suggests he can offer a great deal of composure and control to the Real Madrid side.

His fitness levels looked okay against Rayo Vallecano and the decision to take him off could be because Ancelotti has a start against Juventus in mind for the Spaniard.

Real Madrid will be looking to control the midfield against the Italian side which makes it important that they have players available who can protect the ball well and play simple passes with the defence and attack.

It will be fascinating to see how he plays over the coming weeks for Real Madrid and whether the nature of his performances impacts on the club’s decision to potentially offer him a new contract beyond next summer.

See also: Real Madrid coach delighted with two former Premier League sons - who?

image: © Jan S0l0

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