How Hudl Helped Deportivo Alaves Rise Back to La Liga

Deportivo Alaves are one of the big improvers of Spanish football in recent years. Here’s how Hudl helped this modest club improve and compete at the highest level of competition in Spain.

Just over a decade ago Deportivo Alaves endured one of the darkest periods in the club’s history—they suffered relegation to Spain’s third tier. The added backdrop of extreme financial hardship cast a long shadow across this proud Basque Country club.

For a side that contested the UEFA Cup Final at the turn of the century against the treble-winning Liverpool side of 2000/01, this was a tough pill to swallow.

But after enduring a long period in the lower divisions, Alaves have taken off in the past few years.

Sealing promotion to the second tier in 2013 as overall champions of the third tier was just the beginning. Three years later, they were promoted back to La Liga. A final day victory over Numancia sent Alaves up as champions.

This is where the team from Vitoria Gazteiz believed they belonged—and it showed early in the 2016 season when the mighty La Liga champion Barcelona was defeated 2-1 by Alaves at the Camp Nou.

This victory set the team on their way to a ninth place finish in La Liga, the highest finish in club history.

2017 saw Alaves contest the Copa Del Rey Final for the first time in their history while recording an impressive fourteenth place finish in the league.

Video analysis has become an integral part of the team’s preparations during this successful period. Head analyst Borja Matias outlined how they use Hudl on teams throughout the club.

“At the club, we use Sportscode for the first team, both for coaches and for the team of analysts,” Matias said. “We also have it with Alaves B in the third division and youth coaches use it as well.”

Former Barcelona stalwart Abelardo Fernandez is the head coach at Alaves and works closely with Matias. The manager is an strong advocate of video analysis in the club.

“With Abelardo, we use it both at an individual level, to watch things during the week, and also when we think it will be a good idea to show the players their opponents before the match,” Matias said. “Because all of our training sessions are recorded, Abelardo uses it quite a lot.

“I think all managers are increasingly aware of how important video is.”

Matias’s weekly workflow is dominated by the use of Sportscode in the lead up to every fixture.

“On the first day of the week, alongside the coaching team, we take a look at the opponent we will be playing against to give us some ideas,” Matias said. “We also submit a report on what we have previously seen of the opposition.

“On that basis we go about preparing the week both in terms of the tasks to perform and the footage that we choose to show the players.”

Alaves also utilise Sportscode on match days to determine positive outcomes in live match situations.

“We use it to work live, which is very important for us,” Matias said. “The Spanish Liga provides us with footage of the match via a tactical camera, then we cut what we think is relevant and go down to the bench at halftime and show the players.

“It’s something we do quite a lot.”

"The use that can be made of Hudl is important especially in terms of a footballer’s improvement"

Small-budget clubs such as Alaves can’t afford exorbitant transfer fees to attract marquee talent, so player development from the youth level is key to provide quality players for the first team. Hudl plays a vital role in this process.

“The use that can be made of Hudl is important especially in terms of a footballer’s improvement,” Matias said. “Not so much in terms of winning, because for the youth team this isn’t the priority, the priority is player development.

“We have a coach who works with 20 or 30 promising young players at the club, and Hudl is used so that this coach can review all the actions of these players in matches to observe their development.”

Munir El Haddadi is a shining example of a young player thriving in the Alaves system. The on-loan Barcelona product was leader in both goals and assists for Alaves this season, an excellent return for a player just 22 years of age.

After a slow start in 2017, Alaves turned a corner to safely secure another season in the top division. Matias counts on Hudl to solidify the club’s position, alongside the other traditional key pillars of the club setup.

“I think everything counts,” Matias said. “We’ve been using Hudl, and it plays its part, just as the nutritionist, the physios, the medical team and the coaching team do.”

Alaves is most definitely a club on the rise. It’ll be exciting to see how far they can go in 2019.

Want to find out why Hudl is so useful for elite clubs? Check it out.