Real Madrid: 3 key individual battles to watch against Alaves

Real Madrid, Karim Benzema (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Karim Benzema (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Raphael Varane
Real Madrid, Raphael Varane (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images) /

Real Madrid CB Raphael Varane vs. Alaves ST Joselu

On the other end of the pitch, we’ll have some more exciting center back vs. striker matchups. Lucas Perez and Joselu form one of La Liga’s most talented striker partnerships, while Real Madrid have one of the world’s best center back duos in Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane.

Ramos should play, though his status may be in a bit of doubt, but Varane is the player I am circling. He leads Real’s defenders with 2.4 aerial duels won per game and is one of the best center backs in the world in the air. Varane is super composed and can be physical with anyone.

Physicality is Joselu’s calling card. The Alaves striker has been in a slump recently, but that might make Madridistas even more nervous about what he will do at the Mendizorroza this weekend. He does so many little things to help his team up top and is a clear danger to Real. Joselu is winning a whopping seven aerial duels per game and draws 2.1 fouls per contest, to boot.

Varane and Real must be careful when defending Joselu. He likes to bait defenses into mistakes, and his ability to maintain possession in the air is crucial to Alaves’ style of play. Varane matches up well against him, but it will be interesting to see if he can help take the 30-year-old out of the equation fully.