Real Madrid cannot afford to let points slip as they face Real Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Los Blancos have seen their lead at the top of the La Liga table cut down after a 2-1 defeat to second placed Sevilla, who are now just a point behind them. They also crashed out of the Copa del Rey after failing to beat Celta Vigo in their two-legged quarter-final tie.
They managed to beat Malaga thanks to a brace from captain Sergio Ramos last time around, but would want to make a statement victory to intimidate their rivals for the title.
Real Sociedad aren’t going to be an easy proposition though. La Real are currently in fifth place on the table, tied on points with Real Madrid’s arch-rivals Atletico Madrid. They are also riding high on some good form and will look to leave the Bernabeu with at least something gained from their travels.
Probable Line-ups & Tactics:
Los Blancos are reeling from a bit of an injury crisis, with manager Zinedine Zidane forced to play without a number of key first team players. Marcelo and Luka Modric joined the list of walking wounded after their game against Malaga and are unlikely to be available for this one.
However, the Frenchman has shown that he can work wonders with the academy players, and it could just be a blessing in disguise for them.
Real Madrid will obviously look to grab the game by the throat in front of their home fans. Zidane has implemented a three man midfield system with one defensive midfielder sitting back to allow the other two to romp forward.
The absence of Gareth Bale on the front-line is a big loss, but the other two members of the B.B.C., Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo, will look to make up for the missing Welshman. All the attackers will look to get forward, link up and pierce the Sociedad defence with some fluid attacking play.
Probable Starting XI:- Keylor Navas; Danilo, Ramos, Casemiro, Nacho; Isco, Kovacic, Kroos; Lucas Vasquez, Benzema, Ronaldo
La Real have been maintaining a spot in the top five of La Liga this season, and even managed to hold Barcelona to a draw earlier in their campaign. However, they are still not much of a match for the top teams in the league, having been defeated by four goals by the likes of Sevilla and even 16th placed Deportivo.
It looks like a difficult task for Eusebio Sacristan and his players. The Spaniard will instruct his players to hold a tight structure in defence and hit back at Real Madrid on the counter attack. Holding a high line and pressing is out of the question for La Real, and the term ‘smash and grab’ would be more apt for their tactical approach for this game.
Probable Starting XI:- Rulli; Berchiche, Martinez, Navas, Zaldua; Canales, Zurutuza, Granero; Juanmi, Vela, Jose
- Real Madrid won the first fixture against Sociedad 3-0.
- Only three of the 22 league games between these two sides have ended in a draw.
- Los Blancos have won 15 games, compared to La Real’s four victories over them.
- La Real have kept eight clean sheets in 19 games in La Liga this season.
- Real Madrid have lost just one La Liga game this season.
Player to watch out for:
All eyes will be on the French striker, who is often the least recognized of Real Madrid’s B.B.C trio. Benzema has been Real’s prime striker for the past few seasons, but now faces competition from the prodigal son Alvaro Morata.
The academy product is believed to be unhappy with his squad rotation role at Real Madrid and wants a permanent berth in the starting XI. The young Spaniard is a fan favourite and one of the top young forwards in the world, meaning Benzema will have to perform big to keep his place in the side.
Interestingly, both players have five goals and two assists for Los Blancos this season.
Real Madrid 4-2 Real Sociedad
It should be a comfortable victory for Real Madrid, but the injury issues in defence could hurt them in a big way. The attackers will run circles around the Sociedad defence in all likelihood, but La Real could strike back more than once on the weakened Madrid defence.
Despite this though, the likes of Ronaldo, Benzema, Isco and co. are sure to make it a goal fest at the Santiago Bernabeu in front of their demanding home fan base.