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 200001, 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.