As La Liga prepares to enter into Gameweek 10, the top end of the table still has an unfamiliar look to it, with some of Spain’s middleweights continuing to impress.
Defending champions Barcelona lead the way, with their Catalan neighbours Espanyol a point behind in second place.
But arguably the biggest surprise is Alaves, currently sitting in third, ahead of Sevilla and Atletico Madrid respectively.
The highest ever La Liga finish achieved by the Basque side came back in the 1999-2000 season as 6th, and since then they have only broken into the top ten twice since, and finished down in 14th place last season.
Much of the praise for their performances in 2018-19 has been directed towards manager Abelardo Fernandez, who has followed up on his impressive work in keeping the club in the top flight last season.
He has looked to build a consistent base this season, with six players starting six or more of their opening nine games of the season.
But he also has been ruthless with players, if they are not meeting his high standards, particularly new signings.
However neither has really lived up to expectation as yet, with one goal for Baston and none for Guidetti, and Abelardo has looked to freshen up his side because of this.
Goals are still an issue, as aside from the five scored against Rayo Vallecano, they have not beaten any side by more than one goal this season.
Mentality and fitness have also proved key in Alaves’ approach so far with late goals proving vital in seeing them rise up the La Liga table.
Goals on or after 90 minutes secured wins away at Real Valladolid and at home to Real Madrid, as well as a draw against Getafe.
Abelardo has built a solid unit, that for now is punching above its weight. How long that will last remains to be seen, but without the European distraction of other sides they are clear to concentrate on domestic action and see how far they can go in 2018-19.
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