Alaves met Valencia at Estadio de Mendizorroza in their first La Liga game of 2019. Unbeaten in their last nine games at home (five wins, four draws). They were looking to strengthen their position in the top five places versus one of the worst team in La Liga at the moment.

Valencia have won just two of their last eight La Liga away games (four draws, two defeats), failing to find the net in four of those. Here, our tactical analysis will use statistics to identify what the key points of this game were.

This was a game that promised to be tight considering the stats of these teams. Both conceded very few goals, 0.8 and 1 per match respectively.


Deportivo Alaves (4-4-2)

Starting XI: Fernando Pacheco(GK), Ximo Navarro, Guillermo Maripan, Victor Laguardia, Martin Aguirregabiria, Ibai Gomez, Tomas Pina, Manu Garcia, Jony, Borjan Baston, Jonathan Calieri

Valencia (5-3-2): Neto (GK), Toni Lato, Mouctar Diakaby, Ezequiel Garay, Gabriel Paulista, Denis Cheryshev, Daniel Parejo, Daniel Was, Cristiano Piccini, Rodrigo Moreno and Santi Mina

Alaves Valencia La Liga Tactical Analysis Statistics
Marcelino drops his 4-4-2 for a 5-3-2.

After 18 fixtures of La Liga, it is evident some things haven’t changed yet. According to, Barcelona is still the best offensive team of La Liga with 48 goals scored, Atletico is still the best defensive team (only 12 goals conceded) and Valencia struggle to score.

For most of these team (except Atletico with Antoine Griezmann, third at Ballon d’Or awards) don’t possess top players, able to change a game by their talents. These formations capitalise on their strengths and minimise their weaknesses. Alaves conceded even fewer goals than Real Madrid (22) and have become masters in the art of scoring on set pieces.

Deportivo Alaves

The home side took a while to settle into a consistent attacking rhythm, as the visitors managed to get into their defensive third via the wide areas. This season, the club has 44% possession on average, then they focus a lot on the air duels. They have scored seven headed goals in La Liga this season; no side has scored more and no La Liga player has scored more headers than Alaves’ Jonathan Calieri (four, alongside Girona’s Christian Stuani).

Alaves coach Abelardo Fernandez has only won one of his three La Liga games as manager against Valencia’s Marcelino Garcia Toral – this win did come at home (2-0 for Sporting vs Villareal in May 2016) and this Saturday he repeated it, in just 45 minutes.

Seven minutes after the Dani Parejo’s goal, Alaves were able to equalise as Mouctar Diakhaby failed to clear a corner and it fell to Guillermo Maripan, whose scuffed shot hit Borja Baston and beat Neto. Jony, Alaves’ left midfielder received the ball on the right wing and put in a left-footed cross towards Valencia’s back post and the ball, similarly to the first Alaves goal, was not cleared and Tomas Pina was there to give the hosts a 2-1 lead. A late goal as facing the Real Madrid earlier in the season.

Alaves Valencia La Liga Tactical Analysis Statistics
Maripan and Borja Baston celebrating the first goal.

Solid Maripan… as usual

Seven aerial duels won, 100% tackles succeeded, an interception and ten clearances. Gabriel Maripan won eight of his 13 duels. He hit the woodwork once in three total shots more than Rodrigo and assisted Borja Baston following a corner. If Manu Garcia leads the midfield, at 24 years, the Chilean defender provides Alaves with a serious presence behind, in the air (three-four aerials won per game) good at tackle with 65% and enough good with the ball he has on average 75% accurate passes. If he keep progressing, he’ll be the leader in the next Copa America because Jara and Medel are history now for the Chilean national team. According to his agent, Barcelona have shown interest.


Without Gonzalo Guedes (Hernia), Francis Coquelin (calf injury) & Geoffrey Kongdobia (hamstring injury), Marcelino Garcia Toral set Valencia up in a non-familiar 5-3-2 shape which transforms in 4-4-2, with Daniel Parejo and Daniel Wass sitting as the two central midfielders. Piccini and Paulista had the mission to stop Jony the best Alaves player with three goals and five assists. In defense phases, Paulista played alongside Garay and Diakaby, Cristiano Piccini closed on the right as a right-back. In vain because it did not stop him from creating three occasions.

See the difference between the positioning of Dani Parejo and Lato on the left side compared to the position of Piccini and Wass.
Alaves players have taken advantage of this imbalance by focusing on the less strengthened side.

Daniel Parejo (three goals before this match), proves once again he’s a set-piece master. On a wonderful free-kick, he opened the score, a shot that left Fernando Pacheco frozen to his spot in the Alaves goal. Los Ches’s captain is still the same, he completed the most passes (74) in the match. He is more a deep-lying playmaker than a defensive midfielder, alongside Daniel Was who played on the wing at Evian, I’m not sure this pair will be efficient against top Liga teams. We’ve seen against Real Madrid, under pressure how they failed quickly.

Number of passes attempted all over the field (91).

Rodrigo Moreno has scored in two of his three La Liga games against Alaves, with both goals coming last season. All these are history. Rodrigo lost the most duels (11) in the match with 58% pass success, he didn’t even create serious chances to score. Alongside Mouctar Diakaby, he was the most aggressive player with three fouls committed. Add to that, he lost 5 aerial duels. A night to forget.

After their offensive shortage of the past months, Valencia don’t seem to have resumed their natural order. After Barcelona, Valencia is the team which misses most big chances, they have missed thirteen before this game, three less than Barcelona. Valencia had six corners but they didn’t score. Alaves had only two chances on corner and they scored at each occasion.

When you look at the forwards that Los Ches possess, you see a package of international players, Kevin Gameiro, Mitchy Batshuayi, Santi Mina, and Rodrigo Moreno no of them has scored three goals in La Liga. With all the injuries, Marcelino Garcia Toral has no clear solution on the bench, he used only Batshuayi and Fran Torres to save a draw but it was too late, Alaves has already changed in a compact low-block defensively. Kevin Gameiro stayed on the bench while Valencia’s coach could have made a third substitution.

Marcelino’s side got forward with regularity but were unable to make their chances pay as they struggled to put their efforts on target, and ultimately they paid just before the half-time whistle with Pina’s goal.


Conceding so late in the first half effectively killed any chance the visitors had of getting back into the match. Valencia are now level with their worst goal scoring season ever after 18 La Liga games. Alaves have 31 points, temporarily surpassing Real Madrid in the standings to reach UEFA Champions League. None of this is spectacular or stunning, but it’s simple, it’s efficient, and most importantly, it wins games. It’s complicated to predict if Alaves will remain in the top five of the table however it’s clear it will be hard this season to beat them at home.

If you love tactical analysis, then you’ll love the digital magazines from – a guaranteed 100+ pages of pure tactical analysis covering topics from the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga, Bundesliga and many, many more. Get your copy of the FIRST of two December issues for just ₤4.99 here, or the SECOND of the December issues with an annual membership right here.