Real Madrid head to Anoeta this weekend for a tough test against an “in-form” Real Sociedad team. Sociedad has won their last three league games scoring 10 goals in the process. On the other hand, Real Madrid have been struggling by their high standards, having picked up only five points from their last three league games.
The margin of error to win la Liga is very low, and with Barcelona already ahead by 7 points, Real Madrid know that this is a must win match.
To make matters worse for Real Madrid, they will be without four of their star men. Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcelo are both missing due to suspension, while Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos are out with respective injuries. This leaves Zidane with only Gareth Bale to play as center forward, a position he has not had much success in. However, Bale has scored in all of his visits to Anoeta since being a Real Madrid player.
With that said, Real Madrid will still fancy their chances of grabbing all three points because of the following reasons:
While the away games at Anoeta have been tough, Real Madrid have only lost once to Sociedad in the past 5 seasons. This was a 4-2 defeat at the beginning of the 2014/2015 season when Carlo Ancelotti was in charge.
- European competition
Real Sociedad played Rosenborg in the Europa league on Thursday, while Real Madrid played their midweek Champions League game against APOEL on Wednesday. Therefore, by game time, Real Madrid would have had one additional day of rest.
It is expected that the Sociedad players will tire as the game goes on and Unlike Eusebio Sacristan (coach of Real Sociedad), Zinedine Zidane has the luxury of a rotating his squad without much drop in quality. If Real Madrid find themselves behind in this game, Zidane has a host of talent he can call on from the bench to employ different game plans and tactics.
- Sociedad’s defense
Injuries to Raul Navas and Inigo Martinez has prevented Sociedad from selecting their ideal defensive lineup. While Sociedad have been winning their games, they have been conceding goals. They conceded two goals against Celta Vigo and a further two goals against Deportivo. Look for Madrid to exploit the weaknesses in Sociedad’s makeshift defense.
- Marco Asensio and Theo Hernandez
The return of Marco Asensio to the starting line-up is welcomed news for all Madridistas. Asensio consistently scores goals and his presence is needed more than ever now, especially in the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.
There is some excitement with the introduction of Theo Hernandez to the starting 11. While he is no Marcelo, his speed and intelligence will add some impetus to Madrid’s attack.
This will be a tough matchup at Anoeta, but I predict a win for Real Madrid. I do not see this being a high scoring encounter. Madrid’s relatively superior defense will prevent Sociedad from scoring many goals, while Madrid’s misfiring front line probably won’t be able to take advantage of Sociedad’s makeshift defense. I expect to the game to end 2-1 in Real Madrid’s favor.
Expected Real Madrid Line-up
Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, and Theo Hernandez
Casemiro, Luka Modric, Isco
Marco Asensio, Gareth Bale, Lucas Vasquez