Anoeta, San Sebastian
Saturday, 05 April, 18:00 GMT
In gameweek 32 of the Spanish La Liga, Real Madrid travel to Anoeta to face Real Sociedad looking for a win to maintain their position in the title race.
After two discouraging losses against Sevilla and Barcelona, Real Madrid have been written off and are no longer the favourites to win the league. ‘Los Blancos’ though, have plans to fight till the end for the title. Real Madrid have gone back to winning ways after two convincingly good victories a 5-0 against Rayo Vallecano in the Liga and a 3-0 victory against Borussia Dortmund in the mid-week Champions League game. Meanwhile, ‘La Real’ are looking to strengthen their position in the league and fight for the Europa League spot against Villareal and Sevilla.
Real Sociedad will battle Real Madrid and try their best to not gift any points to Ancelotti’s men. Barca and Athletic Bilbao are among those sides to come away from Anoeta empty-handed so far this term, as Sociedad continue to eye Champions League qualification for a second successive season. Jagoba Arrasate’s men are six points behind fourth-placed Athletic Bilbao, with only seven matches left to play. Sociedad will try to avoid defeat and keep fighting for the European qualification. Sociedad are level on points with Sevilla and only one point ahead of Villareal to sit on the sixth spot in the Liga table.
Real Madrid have gone from favourites to win the league to a side that will possibly finish the season trophy-less after having suffered two consecutive defeats in two of the very important games of the season. Carlo Ancelotti’s men however, have come back stronger and have won two consecutive games at home with a convincing margin also keeping clean sheets in both the games. The title still isn’t gone for Real Madrid and it will be wrong to write them off with seven matches still left to be played of the season. Real Madrid sit third on the La Liga table 3 points behind league leaders Atletico and 2 points behind second-placed Barcelona. ‘Los Blancos’ cannot afford a slip-up at this moment and will have to put their best forward and look at every game as a cup final in order to have a realistic chance at winning the league.
‘La Real’ have drawn one and lost two of their last 5 league games and this may not be the best time for them to face Real Madrid. Sociedad can however boast of the fact that they are the among those teams in the league to deny both Barca and Athletic Bilbao from gaining any points at San Sebastian. Jagoba Arrasate will be without midfielders Xabi Prieto and Esteban Granero. Granero will miss this tie against his boyhood club. Real Sociedad will try their best to provide Real Madrid with all kinds of difficulties and pose a hurdle to their title race.
Real Sociedad will go with their usual 4-2-3-1 formation with Bravo between the sticks. The Backline will consist of Martinez, Gonzalez, Inigo Martinez and Bella. Bergara and Elustondo will play as the two holding mid-fielders. Sergio Canales may fill in the hole while Griezmann and Carlos Vela flank the wings. Agirretxe will play upfront as the lone striker.
Probable Line-up: Bravo; Martinez, Gonzalez, Inigo Martinez, Bella; Bergara, Elustondo; Vela, Canales, Griezmann; Agirretxe;
The lady luck hasn’t exactly been favouring Real Madrid this season. After losing Khedira, Arbeloa and Jesé for the rest of the season, other players have also been facing fitness issues. Marcelo did not feature in the UCL fixture against Dortmund and is set to miss-out against Real Sociedad as well. The biggest blow that has been dealt to Real Madrid is the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo’s knee has been a cause of concern for ‘The Whites’ and the Portuguese faced problems during the UCL encounter against Dortmund. Ancelotti has confirmed that the forward will be rested. Ancelotti also confirmed that Isco will feature from the start of the game while Di Maria will start on the bench.
Real Madrid will field a 4-3-3 with Diego Lopez guarding the goal. The back four will consist of Carvajal, Pepe, Ramos and Coentrao. Modric, Alonso and Isco will occupy the midfield. Ancelotti has hinted that Bale will feature on the left wing. Morata and Benzema will be other two forwards.
Probable Line-up: Lopez; Carvajal, Pepe, Ramos, Coentrao; Alonso, Modric, Isco; Morata, Benzema, Bale;
Player to watch out for
Gareth Bale (Real Madrid)
In the absence Real Madrid’s key asset – Cristiano Ronaldo, it is time for the €100m Welshman to step up and lead the attack. For the first time in his Real Madrid career, Gareth Bale may have a chance to play on his favoured left wing and the forward must make full use of this opportunity and impress his fans and manager.
Real Sociedad 1-2 Real Madrid
It will be a tight game and Sociedad will make sure they don’t let Real Madrid win it easily. ‘Los Blancos’ will give their all as anything less than 3 points will surely see them out of the title race. An interesting game is awaited.