Alaves head into the new campaign following a brilliant 2018/19 season where they threatened to seriously challenge for Europe before ultimately fading late on with a somewhat sour end to Abelardo’s impressive stint as boss. Read on for our Alaves season preview for 2019-20.
Last Season – 11th
Alaves may have ended up in 11th place last term but between match-days 4 and 28, they spent just one week outside the top six. Again they excelled at home with Real Madrid among the sides to slip to defeat at Mendizorrotza but they couldn’t sustain their European push, ultimately sliding down to mid-table with a poor end to the campaign. Even that was a decent outcome for a side many expected to struggle but the season did end with Abelardo and the board failing to agree terms for a new contract bringing his successful spell in the Basque Country to a slightly bitter end.
Alavés Transfers ahead of 2019/20
Lucas Pérez – €2.3m from West Ham
Joselu – €2.24m from Newcastle
Ramón Miérez – €2.23m from Tigre
Pere Pons – €2m from Girona
Luis Rioja – €2m from Almeria
Saúl García – FREE from Deportivo La Coruna
Tachi – FREE from Atletico Madrid
Jeando Fuchs – Undisclosed Fee from FC Sochaux
Olivier Verdon – Undisclosed Fee from FC Sochauz
Aleix Vidal – LOAN from Sevilla
Carlos Vigaray – FREE to Zaragoza
Antonio Cristian – FREE to Fuenlabrada
(Transfers up to 19th July 2019)
Coach – Asier Garitano
The man with the tough task of filling Abelardo’s boots is Asier Garitano. He did a terrific job with Leganes but was sacked by Real Sociedad last season in late December. He is known as a defensive coach and may relish being back at a club where there is less onus on him to play expansive or attractive football. However it could still be a tough job given Alaves were largely perceived to have overachieved last season and have lost many key loanees.
Possible Alavés Team Next Season
Alaves had a large number of players on loan last season. That included Jony and Jonathan Calleri, two of their most impressive performers. They won’t be able to count of either of those men this time around while the likes of Takashi Inui, Borja Baston and Darko Brasanac have also returned to their parent clubs. That left them needing new recruits in a number of positions and they have at least done a lot of early business which should help them in what could be a challenging process of shaping this new-look side.
The main positive for Asier Garitano is that so far they’ve been able to hold onto their best defenders. The goalkeeper and first choice back four could be the same as last season and that does provide Alaves with a strong base from which to build.
The midfield and attack will have a totally different look to it this term though. The wide positions were key for Alaves in 2018/19 with Jony and Ibai Gomez starring during the first half of the campaign. On the left flank, 25 year old Luis Rioja is likely to get his chance having completed a switch from second tier Almeria while loan signing Aleix Vidal may feature on the right flank. On the surface they look weaker in those key areas as a result but Pere Pons could be a very useful addition in central midfield following his move from relegated Girona.
Up front, it’s all change with Joselu and Lucas Perez returning to Spain following stints in the Premier League. Both have plenty of experience but Argentine youngster Ramón Miérez will also be battling for a start in attack following his move from Tigre.
Key Man – Víctor Laguardia
Alaves were very tough to break down for much of last season with the central defensive pairing of Víctor Laguardia and Guillermo Maripan a big reason for that. With Garitano at helm, keeping goals out will most likely be their top priority again and they need experienced Laguardia to have another strong season if they are going to getting anywhere close to emulating that 11th place finish.
One to Watch – Luis Rioja
OFFICIAL: Alaves have signed winger Luis Rioja from Almeria for €2m. pic.twitter.com/dUzOawTYNG
— Transfer News Central (@TransferNewsCen) July 1, 2019
The change in coach may bring a change in style but Alaves really need someone to step up and fill the void left by the departure of Jony who chipped in with 5 goals and 10 assists last term. Rioja was previously on the books of Real Madrid and Celta Vigo but his path back to the top has come via lower league stints with Marbella and Almeria. He leaves his native Andalusia behind this season and will be hoping to make a name for himself in the top flight having signed a four year deal at Mendizorrotza.
Alavés 2019-2020 Targets
Alaves have used the loan market really well since their return to the top flight and they may add more loan recruits before the summer is out. However there does seem to have been a slight shift in policy with nine players arriving on permanent deals. On the surface, their first-choice eleven will be weaker than the one that perhaps over-achieved last term and that’s obviously a concern. Like roughly half the division, survival will be the primary objective but it’s unrealistic to expect them to be competing in and around the top six again, as they were for much of last season.
Alavés season preview via Mark Sochon
Contact: marksochon(at)hotmail.co.uk | @marksoc1 on Twitter