Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
November 9, 2013; 15:00 GMT
With qualification to the knock-out stages of UEFA Champions League all but secured, Real Madrid will turn their attentions to La Liga where they welcome Real Sociedad to the Santiago Bernabéu on MatchDay 13 in an important clash for both clubs. Real Madrid will want to close the gap on Atletico and Barcelona at the top of the table, this game being played a day before the other two take to the pitch. Of late, Real Madrid have been getting the job done in terms of getting the points, but their performances have hardly been consistent or convincing. Ancelotti would be especially looking to get the defensive frailties right, building on top of a string of favorable results.
On the other half of the pitch, Real Sociedad have failed to carry last season’s momentum on to the current campaign, enduring a jittery start. European exertions certainly seem to be exacting their toll, with Real Sociedad winning just three of their twelve La Liga fixtures. Sale of yester-year’s star performer Asier Illarramendi to Real Madrid has had its inevitable effect too, but the Basque club remains a force to be reckoned with nevertheless.
Real Madrid – Team news, Lineup and Formation
A pulsating encounter at Juventus Stadium thankfully, for Ancelotti, did not turn up any injuries and the Italian would have a full squad to choose from for Saturday’s encounter. The squad strength and morale has been boosted by Alonso and Isco’s return from injuries, although there exist certain uncertainties regarding the latter. Changes will be expected to side that started against Juventus, although if Tuesday’s performance was anything to go by, captain Iker Casillas will retain his spot between the sticks.
Varane did not have his best night in a Real Madrid shirt, but would still be a part of the starting line-up with Ramos serving a suspension, partnering Pepe in central defence. Carvajal who would slot in at the right back spot, while Fabio Coentrao will return to Real Madrid’s left flank. Three in the midfield, a measure required on account of Juventus’s overpowering midfield itself, would make way for two again, with Alonso and Modric partnering in the middle.
The attacking trio could see Isco making a return to the starting line-up in a long time, in the hole behind the centre forward. Bale would play through the right while Ronaldo will take up his usual position on the left. The duo has been unstoppable of late, and it would be from them that Real Madrid’s biggest threat will likely come. The front three of Isco, Bale or Ronaldo did not really get a chance to kick things off together, as one’s injury differed with the other’.
This fixture might just give the Madridistas a chance to witness them play together, although it is far from certain if Isco will be kick it off straight away after an lengthy lay-off. Also, Ancelotti has gradually been drifting towards a 4-3-3 from a 4-2-3-1 of late, which might see Isco dropping deeper to reinforce the two man midfield midway through the game, potentially outnumbering Real Sociedad’s two man holding pivot. Among other things, Real Madrid’s front three frequently interchanging positions, with Benzema also joining in at times, could mean a difficult outing for Real Sociedad’s defence.
Expected Line-ups (4-2-3-1): Casillas(GK); Carvajal, Pepe, Varane, Coentrao; Modric, Alonso; Bale, Isco, Roanldo; Benzema
Real Sociedad – Team news, Lineup and Formation
Real Sociedad Manager Arrasate has Daniel Estrada and Esteban Granero, former Real Madrid man, missing through injuries but his players will be encouraged by a much needed victory last weekend, a thumping victory against Osasuna. The clash saw Real Sociedad play their best football of the season, and as a result Arrasate might prefer to make minimal changes to the line-up, unlike the way he has preferred to rotate his starting XI until now.
The back four of Carlos and Inigo Martinez and Jose Angel and Ion Ansotegi, who kept the clean sheet against Osasuna last week, will line-up in front of goalkeeper Claudio Bravo. Ruben Pardo and Gorka Etustondo too will retain their place in the midfield. The duo are however not likely to find things quite as easy as the other day against Osasuna. They might possibly have to face off against a three man Real Madrid midfield, prompting a possible shift in Sociedad’s strategy. Xabi Prieto will be making a return to the starting XI in place of David Zurutuza. Antoine Griezmann and Gonzalo Castro will start on the flanks, while Carlos Vela would lead the line.
The visitors would be hoping for their hosts’ defensive woes to continue, in light of a high scoring encounter last week and the front three on a good run of form, particularly Antoine Grizemann. The Frenchman has already scored 7 goals this season.
Expected Line-ups (4-2-3-1): Bravo(GK); Martinez, Ansotegi, Martinez, Angel; Etustondo, Pardo; Castro, Xabi Prieto, Griezmann; Vela
- Xabi Alonso’s return to fitness means that as many as two former Real Sociedad players in him and Illarramendi could feature against their former club at the same time.
- With a brace against Juventus in the Champions League, Cristiano Ronaldo broke the record for most number of goals scored by an individual in the group stages; having scored 8. He has two games to better that record.
- Real Madrid have won 16 of their last 17 home matches in La Liga.
- Real Madrid have scored at least 4 goals in their last 3 home matches against Real Sociedad in all competitions.
Player to watch out for
Cristiano Ronaldo cannot stay away from the news for too long. The Portuguese put in another brilliant shift for Real Madrid in the Champions League; scoring one and assisting Gareth Bale’s goal. In the process he also booked the record for most number of goals in the group stages to his name. The stories about Real Madrid this season have inadvertently been about Bale, but Ronaldo has once again managed to shift the cameras’ attention back towards him.
Real Madrid 4-2 Real Sociedad
Both teams are coming into this game on the back of some impressive performances, and this should be an exciting exhibit of attacking football. The presence of atleast one and possibly two former Sociedad players in Real Madrid’s line up could mean that sparks could fly. An exciting contest between two of the few clubs who ever received a Royal patronage is in the offing.
Blast from the Past