Real Madrid lost their third league game of the season, and Eden Hazard to another injury, as they went down 2-1 to Alaves.
Thibaut Courtois gifted the visitors their second goal by playing the ball straight out to former Newcastle striker Joselu who scored.
The first goal was also a present from the Champions – Nacho handballed in the area and former Arsenal and West Ham forward Lucas Perez rifled the penalty past Courtois.
Real Madrid: Courtois, Vasquez, Varane, Nacho, Marcelo (Mendy 69), Modric (Odegaard 69), Casemiro, Kroos (Isco 69), Asensio (Vinicius Jr 63), Mariano, Hazard (Rodrygo 28)
Subs not used: Militao, Lunin, Altube
Yellows: Casemiro, Kroos
Goals: Casemiro 86
Alaves: Pacheco, Jimenez, Laguardia, Lejeune, Duarte, Jota, Battaglia, Pina (Mendez 77), Rioja (Lopez 88), Joselu (Silva Acosta 90+1), Perez (Sainz 88)
Subs not used: Ely, Guidetti, Sivera, Marin, Aguirregabiria, Garcia, Tavares
Yellows: Duarta, Mendez, Rioja
Goals: Perez 5 (pen), Joselu 49
‘This is an unusual season,’ said Casemiro after the defeat. ‘We have to get used to it as soon as we can.’
For ‘strange’, read exhausting. This was the first of nine games Real Madrid have to play in 33 days and they already look tired and missing too many key players.
When Isco curled the last chance of the game onto the crossbar in the 95th minute Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos and Fede Valverde, all injured and watching from the stands, held their heads in their hands.
If those three are now to be joined by Hazard again Zidane will have to keep shuffling his increasingly thinning pack. ‘I hope it’s just a knock and not muscular,’ Zinedine Zidane said after the game.
Take nothing away from Alaves however. This was the perfect away performance from them. They may have had some fortune in the first half when neither the referee nor VAR spotted Victor Laguardia tugging the hair of Marcelo inside the penalty area, but they deserved their win.
Courtois made the error that led to the second goal with a sloppy pass out but he was also the reason Madrid did not lose by more. He saved twice from Perez and once from Joselu as time and again Alaves threatened on the break.
Real Madrid’s best chances came at the end of the first half when twice Toni Kroos was denied by Fernando Pacheco and in the last minute of added time when Isco hit the frame of the goal.
Zinedine Zidane said: ‘We just can’t seem to change the dynamic of games and that worries me and it annoys me.’
Asked about winning only seven of the last 14 games he said: ‘I don’t have an explanation. When you let in a goal after just three minutes well that is always going to make it difficult.
‘It’s not an excuse but it is true that we have a lot of problems with injuries at the moment. We just cannot seem to find any consistency.’
Madrid are currently rebounding from one impressive performance to another below par showing. Just five days ago they picked up their first ever win in the San Siro in the Champions League with a convincing 2-0 win over Inter.
Concerns over the fitness of Martin Odegaard meant that he started on the bench and Zidane again left out Mendy, playing Marcelo instead.
His team selection will be scrutinised but so will the quality of the squad he has at his disposal. Madrid don’t look to have the same level as the two sides that currently sit top of the table – Atletico and Real Sociedad.