Santiago Bernab u, Madrid
Wednesday, 30th December, 2015, 1500 UKT
Spanish giants Real Madrid will lock horns with 14th place Real Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday in Gameweek 17 of the Spanish La Liga.
Third place Real Madrid come into the match on the back of a 10-2 demolition of a Rayo Vallecano side who were reduced to 9 men with three quarters of the match remaining. After suffering 3 defeats in their previous 5 matches in the league (against Sevilla, Barcelona and Villarreal), the emphatic win over Rayo came at the right time for Rafa Benitez and his embattled Real Madrid side. Los Blancos will be hoping to reassert their title credentials by registering a comfortable win over Real Sociedad at home on Wednesday.
Having registered a solitary win in their last 5 matches, a struggling Real Sociedad side face a daunting task when they head to the Santiago Bernabeu to take on Rafa Benitez’s Galacticos. The Basque club have improved marginally since the appointment of Eusebio Sacristan as the manager of the football club in early November. Former manager David Moyes was sacked almost 2 months ago after Real Sociedad found themselves just 2 points off the bottom of the table. The Erreala currently occupy 14th position in the La Liga table.
Team News and Tactics
Every match must feel like a “must win” for under fire manager Rafa Benitez. Despite Madrid’s 10-2 win over Rayo in the previous week, the Los Merengues faithful were hardly amused — some even jeered the team after the final whistle. Keeping that in mind, Benitez is expected to field his strongest team against Real Sociedad.
Club captain Sergio Ramos, who has suffered several niggling injuries since the start of the season, is set to miss the clash on Wednesday. He will be replaced by French centre-back Raphael Varane, who will start for Real Madrid alongside Pepe, Danilo and Marcelo. Dani Carvajal returned to training on Monday after being out for the past month, and is expected to make the bench.
James Rodriguez, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric will most likely be part of Benitez’s midfield three against Sociedad behind the attacking trio of Bale, Benzema and Ronaldo. The BBC scored 9 of the 10 goals against Rayo last time out and will be the Basque club’s tormentors-in-chief on Wednesday.
Probable Starting XI (4-3-3): Navas; Danilo, Varane, Pepe, Marcelo; Kroos, Modric, Rodriguez; Ronaldo, Bale, Benzema.
Eusebio Sacristan has guided his side to relative safety since his appointment in early November. The former Barcelona coach will be hoping for a major upset as his side make the daunting trip to the home of the 10 time European champions on Wednesday.
Eusebio will be without the services of David Zurutuza, Mikel GonzA?lez and Raul Navas due to injury. However, the Real Sociedad squad will be boosted by the return of left back De La Bella from suspension.
The form of Imanol Agirretxe will be crucial to Sociedad’s hopes of getting anything out of their match against Los Blancos. The in form striker has indeed been in astonishing goal form having already netted 12 goals this season.
Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Rulli; Reyes, Martinez, Berchiche, Elustondo; Illarramendi, Granero; Bruma, Vela, Canales; Agirretxe.
- Real Madrid have scored a total of 15 goals in last four meetings with Real Sociedad.
- Los Blancos have netted 20 goals in previous five home games in the league.
- Rafa Beniteza s men are after their seventh home win of the season.
- Real Sociedad recorded their last win at Santiago Bernabeu back in 2004.
- Real Madrid have already suffered four defeats on the road this season.
- Eusebio Sacristana s men failed to score in two of their previous three away fixtures.
Player to watch out for:
Imanol Agirretxe (Real Sociedad)
Central to Real Sociedad’s recent resurgence in the past couple of months is the sensational goal scoring form of Imanol Agirretxe. Agirrrexte has scored an astonishing 12 goals for the Basque club this season. Despite his team toiling in the bottom half of the league table, Imanol Agirretxe’s incredible goal scoring form has placed him third in the race to become the Pichichi — only behind Suarez and Neymar and level with Cristiano Ronaldo. The Sociedad faithful will be hoping he keeps this up against the capital club on Wednesday.
Real Madrid 4 – 1 Real Sociedad
Real Madrid head into Wednesday’s match against Real Sociedad as clear favourites after having thumped 10 goals in their previous home match. Despite Agirrrexte’s incredible goal scoring form over the course of the season, Real Sociedad find themselves flirting with relegation. Ronaldo, Bale and Benzema will be smacking their lips at the sight of the Real Sociedad defence that has already conceded 22 goals this season. If the Los Blancos get an early goal and get the home crowd behind them, things could get really ugly for Eusebio Sacristan’s men.