In his first game back in La Liga, Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti marshalled his troops to a comfortable 4-1 victory over Deportivo Alaves in the season opener on Saturday.

Although Los Blancos looked in control throughout the first half, they lacked intensity upfront. However, coming out in the second half, Karim Benzema found the net twice, while centre-back Nacho Fernandez and substitute Vinicius Jr. scored one apiece.

After much discussion and trial throughout the preseason, Ancelotti opted for his preferred 4-3-3 formation, with Eden Hazard, Gareth Bale and Benzema leading the line.

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In the first 45 minutes, Madrid dominated possession but their attacking line failed to penetrate Alaves’ stern defense. After missing much of the last two seasons due to injury, Hazard returned to the starting lineup and looked sharp. 

Ancelotti deployed new signing David Alaba not as a centre-back but as a left-back, a position the Austrian is much more naturally suited to. Bale and Hazard had a few snapshots in the initial minutes, but failed to beat Alaves keeper Fernando Pacheco.

But after the break, the Real Madrid side looked rejuvenated as Hazard and Benzema delightfully combined to score the first goal in the 48th minute. The Belgian setup up the Frenchman with a delicate flick and Benzema slotted it home. 

Soon after, Nacho acrobatically reached out to a freekick from Luka Modric and volleyed it home. Madrid were looking in control as Benzema scored his second and the capital city club’s third of the night at the 62nd mark. 

Alaves fans at the Mendizorroza stadium found something to cheer, Madrid centre-back Eder Militao underplayed a backpass to Thibaut Courtois and the keeper ended up conceding a penalty. Reliable forward Joselu stabbed home the ball from the spot to make it 3-1. 

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Ancelotti brought on the Brazilian youngster duo of Vinicius and Rodrygo. Like always, Vinicius was impactful from the get-go as Alaves’ deep defensive line had innumerable problems to deal with the starlet’s darting runs into the box. 

Crowning his efforts, the 21-year-old winger found the back of the net at the 90th-minute mark after Alaba set him up with a juicy cross just meters away from the goal. The goal will boost the morale of the youngster, who has often been criticised for his inability to finish off chances.

While there is a lot that Real Madrid will need to sort out to be a top European competitor throughout the season, they will grab the win with open arms. In the summer transfer window, the club let go of their half-a-decade long centre-back duo. While Sergio Ramos was signed by Paris Saint-Germain for free, Raphael Varane made his way to Manchester United.

Can Real Madrid hold this initial form? Well, that’s what remains to be seen.