HOW IT ALL HAPPENED : REAL MADRID 3 - 0 ALAVES
This will be Alaves' 12th visit to the Bernabeu in the top flight of Spanish football, and they have only won once during the 1999-2000 campaign. Their last visit to this stadium ended in a 3-0 defeat in February 2006, while they suffered a 4-1 defeat in the reverse match earlier this season. Worryingly for Alaves, they have conceded 23 times in their last six league games with Real Madrid, who have now scored in their last 49 games in all competitions. Not the best reading for Alaves!
Right, without further ado, let me bring you up-to-speed with the all-important team news from the Spanish capital. Real Madrid have had a number of players away on international duty over the last couple of weeks, but Alaves have had time to rest and recuperate. So, who has made it? Let's have a look...
REAL MADRID : Casilla; Danilo, Pepe, Varane, Nacho; Kroos, Modric, Isco; Ronaldo, Benzema, Bale
DEPORTIVO : Pacheco; Ely, Laguardia, Feddal, Hernandez; Camarasa, Garcia; Gomez, Mendez, Toquero; Deyverson .
Casemiro misses out for Real Madrid through suspension, while club captain Sergio Ramos is rested ahead of a busy run of fixtures for Zinedine Zidane's team. Danilo, Raphael Varane and Pepe all come into the back four as Dani Carvajal and Marcelo also drop out, and there is also a spot in midfield for Isco. Keylor Navas has been dropped between the sticks, meanwhile, as Kiko Casilla comes into the XI.
As for Alaves, on-loan Atletico Madrid defender Theo Hernandez has been passed fit following a muscular problem, while Edgar Mendez and Gaizka Toquero also come into the XI following their 1-0 win over Real Sociedad last time out. Deyverson will again lead the line for the Basque outfit.
Twenty wins, five draws and just two defeats is how Real Madrid's La Liga record reads this season, while they have scored 71 times and conceded just 28 goals. Los Blancos also have the best home record this season – winning 11 of their 14 matches and remaining unbeaten in the process.
With all respect to Alaves, Real Madrid will expect to collect all the points this afternoon – allowing them to move five points clear at the summit – before travelling to Leganes on Wednesday night. Next weekend, they will welcome Atletico to the Bernabeu, and three wins in their next three would place Zidane's team in a very strong position as they look for their first league title since 2012.
Alaves, meanwhile, are not challenging for La Liga this season, but their campaign has been just as impressive as Real Madrid's. Indeed, Mauricio Pellegrino's side currently sit 10th in La Liga on 40 points – 18 points clear of the relegation zone, and just four points off the top eight. Bar an incredible collapse, Alaves will play back-to-back La Liga campaigns for the first time since 2003.
0 miniutes : KICKOFF! Alaves kick things off at the Bernabeu...
2 minutes : ... full house inside the Bernabeu , and it would be fair to say that the home supporters are expecting a comfortable three points. Alaves have already won at Camp Nou this season, however, and have been victorious in four of their last six La Liga fixtures.
2 minutes : Ronaldo fires over the crossbar in an early warning to the away side.
4 minutes : It is very interesting to see Casilla between the sticks for Real Madrid. The official line is that Navas has been rested rather than dropped, but the Costa Rican has come under criticism for his performances in recent weeks. Possession football for the home side as they pass and probe.
6 minutes : Alaves have not been afraid to commit players forward in the opening six minutes of this match, but they are leaving a lot of space down the other end, and Benzema has just come close to finding Bale with a low cross into the penalty box. Pretty open start to this clash in Madrid.
8 minutes : Toquero is almost playing as a second right-back for Alaves in this match, with the number 18 helping out his defence every time Real Madrid pass the half-way line. We are still waiting for the first serious opportunity of the match, with Ronaldo's early sighter the only half-chance thus far here.
9 minutes : Atletico Madrid's Lucas Hernandez is unsurprisingly supporting his brother here...
11 minutes : Carvajal has just been sent to warm-up, fuelling suggestions that Real Madrid might be forced into an early defensive change. That said, both Danilo and nacho are moving pretty well at the moment. It is the away supporters, meanwhile, making most of the noise inside the stadium.
11 minutes : REAL MADRID SUB! Carvajal replaces Varane, who has only just returned to the team following a hamstring problem, and it looks like the Frenchman has pulled something once again.
13 minutes : Not a great deal for the home supporters to be excited about at the moment as Real Madrid continue to struggle in the final third of the field. Benzema looks to turn away from Feddal after smart work from Ronaldo, but the Alaves centre-back is on hand to make a vital clearance.
15 minutes : Alaves attacker Edgar Mendez goes down inside the Real Madrid box and has a look at the referee, who is just not interested. Still goalless with 15 minutes on the clock at a lively Bernabeu.
16 minutes : SHOT! Benzema allows a pass from Ronaldo to run across him before firing towards goal, but the striker's effort was always over the crossbar. Might have done better there!
17 minutes : BOOKING! Ely (Alaves) is booked for fouling Ronaldo in a dangerous area.
18 minutes : Bale stands over a free kick in a dangerous area...
18 minutes : ... there is not enough whip on the strike, and Bale's effort is wide of the post.
20 minutes : Bale has just started to open his legs in the last few minutes, which is causing the away side plenty of problems in the Real Madrid half of the field. Still no goals, but the pressure is building here.
21 minutes : Carvajal strikes one from the edge of the Alaves box, but the right-back's effort was always moving wide of the post. Still nothing on target from Real Madrid with 21 minutes on the clock.
23 minutes : Little bit of pressure from Alaves as a deep free kick from Garcia causes problems inside the Real Madrid box, but Casilla is out with a strong punch, and the home side can clear their lines. Still no clear chances for either side in the opening 23 minutes as Alaves continue to frustrate Los Blancos.
26 minutes : Super feet from Isco inside the Alaves box as he works a yard before curling one towards the top corner, but his effort was always too high. Alaves continue to keep out Real Madrid in the capital.
28 minutes : SAVE! Decent save from Pacheco to keep out Ronaldo's low strike.
30 minutes : I thought that Real Madrid would find Alaves' a tough nut to crack this afternoon, and that has proved the case. The visitors have also been more than prepared to commit players forward when they have the ball, although Casilla has not had a serious save to make in the opening 30 minutes.
31 minutes : GOAL! Real Madrid 1-0 Alaves (Benzema)
32 minutes : Real Madrid make the breakthrough in the 31st minute of action as Benzema finds the corner of the net after Carvajal had spotted the French striker inside the Alaves box!
34 minutes : Little over 10 minutes of the first period remaining, and Alaves need to be really careful that they do not concede a second as Real Madrid move the ball quicker in the final third of the field.
35 minutes : Real Madrid have a free kick in a dangerous area as Mendez handles outside the box...
35 minutes : ... Ronaldo's free kick hits the wall and deflects behind for a corner kick.
38 minutes : Desperate defending from Alaves in the last few moments as they are forced to sit deep and defend their own penalty box. It is a dangerous tactic as Real Madrid threaten to score a second, which might well be curtains. The visitors just cannot seem to get out of their half at this moment.
38 minutes : Alaves finally break forward and Deyverson meets a decent cross from Hernandez, but his header was always wide of the far post. As long as it remains 1-0, Alaves will be in the contest.
40 minutes : Just a reminder that a win for Real Madrid here would move them five points clear of second-place Barcelona, who travel to Granada tonight. With the greatest of respect to Granada, Barcelona should win pretty comfortably and keep the title race very much alive regardless of this result.
42 minutes : Sweeper-keeper Casilla mops up once again as the Real Madrid stopper continues to impress in this match. It is a big chance for the Spaniard to make an impression, and potentially keep Navas out for the remainder of the season. Possession football for the home side as we approach the break.
44 minutes : Bale has not been overly involved in the first period, but the Welshman is dangerous when he has the chance to open his legs in a wide position. Alaves are pretty comfortable at the moment, however, as they sit in a deep position and look to enter the half-time break just one goal behind.
45 minutes : Smart goalkeeping from Casilla once again as he comes to collect a high free kick.
45 min+1 : CHANCE! Bale sweeps a low effort just wide of the Alaves post after an excellent run from Danilo. Alaves come close to conceding a second late in the first period.
45 min+2 : HALF-TIME: Real Madrid 1-0 Alaves
RESTART! Real Madrid resume the action on home soil...
47 minutes : ... no changes from either side at the break, which is not too much of a surprise. However, I suspect that both managers will have alterations in mind as the second period develops here.
48 minutes : CHANCE! Big chance for the away side to level as Hernandez smashes a low cross into Deyverson, who looks to have a simple finish, but the striker gets too much on his header and the ball flies over the crossbar. Real Madrid wanted a free kick for a previous challenge on Casilla.
50 minutes : Good stuff from Alaves at the moment as they continue to put pressure on Real Madrid with possession in forward positions. It is easy to see why the visitors are so well-placed in the table.
52 minutes : Benzema has scored the only goal of the match thus far, but we have not seen too much from the BBC. Ronaldo and Bale have both looked dangerous in possession of the ball, although Alaves have not exactly been overly concerned by the home side's first-choice front three here.
53 minutes : Danilo takes a nasty challenge from Toquero and there is some concern about the full-back here.
54 minutes : Danilo is back on his feet and should be able to continue, which is great news. The last thing that Real Madrid need at this stage of the season is to lose another first-team defender to injury.
55 minutes : GOAL DISALLOWED! Ronaldo finds the back of the net with a composed finish, but a very late flag denies the Portugal international. That took a long time!
57 minutes : Little over 30 minutes of the second period remaining, and this is still a very open game as Real Madrid continue to struggle in the final third of the field. I would be surprised if we had seen the last of the scoring in this match, especially with Alaves committing numbers forward.
58 minutes : CHANCE! Super chance for Deyverson once again, but the striker heads a Toquero cross wide of the post. Not sure about the Real Madrid defending there!
60 minutes : Real Madrid need a little bit more from Bale in this match, with the Welshman struggling to make his mark. There have been suggestions that the attacker is slightly unhappy at the Bernabeu, and it will be interesting to see whether Man United dare to pursue their long-term target this summer!
61 minutes : CHANCE! Another wonderful chance for Alaves as Edgar Mendez finds all sorts of space inside the Real Madrid box, but the number 17 sends his low volley wide of the post!
63 minutes : Real Madrid have been pretty poor in this second period, but they still lead entering the final 25 minutes of action. At this stage of the season, it is all about getting the three points and moving on. However, Alaves are far from finished here as they continue to commit players forward.
65 minutes : Bale makes a late run into the Alaves box and looks to meet a cross from Carvajal, but Feddal closes the door and the away side can resume the action at the Bernabeu with a goal kick.
67 minutes : Still no movement on the Real Madrid bench, but surely changes are incoming. The home side have been very poor since the restart and Alaves are extremely unfortunate to still be behind here.
68 minutes : Another half-chance for Deyverson, but the striker sends his effort over the Real Madrid crossbar once again. Alaves' number 20 has had at least three clear opportunities to score in this game.
69 minutes : REAL MADRID SUB! Kovacic replaces Modric for the home side.
69 minutes : ALAVES SUB! Romero replaces Ibai Gomez for the visitors.
71 minutes : Little under 20 minutes of football remaining, and it is still a very open game at the Bernabeu. Alaves are full of confidence here as they continue to commit numbers forward.
73 minutes : You just get the feeling that there is at least one more goal in this match and at the moment, Alaves look the team most likely to score. The visitors have been so impressive this afternoon.
75 minutes : Half-chance for Real Madrid as Danilo finds Ronaldo with a low cross, but Feddal is on hand to make a brilliant challenge. The Alaves centre-back has been absolutely terrific in this match.
76 minutes : ALAVES SUB! Katai replaces Mendez for the away side.
78 minutes : At the moment, Real Madrid are doing enough to move five points clear at the top of La Liga. However, Alaves have been much the better team in the second period and deserve to at least be level entering the final 10 minutes. The home supporters are not best pleased at the moment.
79 minutes : Ronaldo scuffs one wide of the post as Real Madrid's problem in the final third continue.
81 minutes : Better from Real Madrid in the last few minutes as they start to keep hold of the ball, but the home side are still really struggling to make things happen in the final third of the field.
82 minutes : REAL MADRID SUB! Lucas Vasquez replaces Benzema for Real Madrid.
83 minutes : POST! Bale hits the outside of the post with a effort under pressure from Toquero!
84 minutes : ALAVES SUB! Santos replaces Camerasa for the away side.
85 minutes : GOAL! Real Madrid 2-0 Alaves (Isco)
87 minutes : Real Madrid score their second of the match and surely secure all the points as Isco collects a pass from Ronaldo before finding the back of the net with a brilliant finish from a tight angle!
88 minutes : It is tough on Alaves, but Real Madrid will indeed secure all the points this afternoon.
88 minutes : BOOKING! Garcia (Alaves) is booked for a poor challenge on Carvajal.
88 minutes : GOAL! Real Madrid 3-0 Alaves (Nacho)
89 minutes : Bale's thumping free kick hits the crossbar, and Nacho is on hand to nod home!
90 minutes : It is very tough on Alaves, who have missed so many good chances this afternoon.
90 min+2 : We are into the second of three additional minutes at the Bernabeu.
90 min+3 : Alaves look to grab a consolation with a couple of late free kicks, and Laguardia just heads wide of the far post after some more lacklustre defending from the home side!
90 min+4 : FULL-TIME: Real Madrid 3-0 Alaves
So there we have it. The referee brings the second period to a close with Real Madrid running out 3-0 winners
over Alaves as the capital giants move five points clear of Barcelona at the top of La Liga.