Real Madrid have not been their imperious selves this season in La Liga, despite a strong start. The reality is that their defence has been a major issue for Los Blancos, with them keeping just three clean sheets domestically all season.
The reasons for that are varied. Thibaut Courtois has struggled with injury at times, while Antonio Rudiger’s addition has meant a less settled defence.
Last season David Alaba formed a solid central defensive pairing, and Carlo Ancelotti was keen to ensure that continued, bringing in Rudiger only for rest and spells at full-back.
However Los Blancos’ defence ranks joint-eighth in La Liga this season, a long-shot off what they are used to. The backline has been conceding at a rate of a goal per game.
Part of the reason for that is the drop in form of David Alaba though. Diario AS have published data from Olocip that shows the Austrian is putting in his worst matches statistically since they began keeping records, in 2016-17.
Alaba is adding a defensive value of 0.100, that is to say his actions contribute to preventing a goal every 10 games, which is significantly down on 0.275 last season. His previous low over that period is 0.270.
With the ball he has been less assured too. Last season he was adding a value of 0.12 in terms of construction of play, a figure that has dropped to 0.06, which shows in the problems Real Madrid have had playing out from the back.
With Alaba now out for the next three to four weeks with injury, he runs the risk of not having a place to come back to. Rudiger has not performed at a high level so far, but neither has he had a run of games in central defence, as he will do now.