Currently the third-oldest Spanish football ground remaining in active use, behind El Molinón of Sporting Gijón and Mestalla of Valencia CF, the Mendizorrotza home of Club Deportivo Alavés first opened in 1924, when the beautiful game in the Iberian Peninsula was still in its formative years.
Located in the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz and the province of Álava, which lends the football club its name, Deportivo Alavés may boast El Glorioso (The Glorious One) as their nickname, but their history is far less illustrious compared to those of bigger clubs in the Basque region, such as Athletic Club Bilbao and Real Sociedad.
After Barcelona won the maiden La Liga season of 1929, Athletic Club Bilbao won the second title during the 1929-30 season, with Deportivo Alavés also becoming the first club to win automatic promotion from the Segunda Division. They enjoyed just three years in the top flight and didn’t return until briefly for two seasons during the mid-1950s.
However, Deportivo Alavés have been enjoying somewhat of a revival in recent years. It's one that almost seems to epitomise their boom and bust existence over the decades, slumping as low as the fifth tier of Spanish football at the start of the 1970s and suffering decades of mediocrity, only to steadily rise back to prominence once again.
At the start of the 1990s barely a couple of thousand fans were watching Deportivo Alavés at Mendizorrotza, with the team languishing in the fourth tier. Nevertheless, it was the start of another arduous climb back to the top, concluding the decade not only back in La Liga, but also achieving a highest-ever 6th position finish, earning the club a first appearance in Europe.
Before the competition was re-branded and re-formatted into the Europa League of today, Deportivo Alavés defied all expectations during their UEFA Cup campaign of the 2000-01 season. Making it all the way to the final in Dortmund, where they were beaten 5-4 in extra-time by Liverpool, in what is still considered one of the greatest football matches of all time.
Unfortunately, this golden age for Deportivo Alavés inevitably came to an end. Five consecutive campaigns in La Liga were followed by relegation, with a brief return during the 2005-06 season, only to slump again. The team slid as far as the third tier and even flirted with folding, before rising once again and now enjoying a third consecutive season in La Liga.
Thanks to their impressive start to the 2018-19 campaign, the latest La Liga betting odds have Deportivo Alavés priced at 18/1 to finish in the top four. Not only would this be a historic record achievement for the club but doing so would also earn a place in the Champions League and a return to the promised land of European competition.
Runners-up to Barcelona in the 2016-17 Copa del Rey final, it seems Deportivo Alavés are enjoying another golden age. It's one their fans are keen to relish whilst it lasts, especially if their form this season continues to defy expectations, remaining amongst the unlikely La Liga challengers in the top four. Mendizorrotza could well be playing the Champions League anthem next season, which would be a remarkable culmination to their latest journey.
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