Real Madrid are in dire need of a convincing league win to successfully defend the La Liga trophy but they will face strong opponents in Real Sociedad.

Real Madrid will hope to end Real Sociedad’s perfect start to the season in order to snatch three points to get back to winning ways in the La Liga on Sunday. Zinedine Zidane’s men, who have collected five points from three games so far, will visit Anoeta to face a side that has won three out of three in the league.

Additionally, the home side also managed to defeat Rosenborg in the Europa League on Thursday night. In Sociedad’s two games on home turf, they scored seven goals while conceding none. Zidane will have his work cut out for him as he prepares his side to get back to winning ways in the La Liga.

Real Madrid need to deal with their poor run of results this weekend and perhaps getting Gareth Bale back firing is the key to that in the absence of Benzema. Regardless of who wins, the match is expected to be cracking encounter, and THT takes a look at how both teams have been holding up ahead of the big day.

Team News & Tactics

Real Sociedad

Eusebio Sacristan surely has got to go all-out for this match, and he will approach it with a full-strength side after doing his best to rest some key players in midweek action.  Right back Carlos Martinez and center back Raul Navas aren’t due back for another week or so, while central midfielder Ruben Pardo and Mikel Oyarzabal both are out with injuries.

Balancing the Europa League and La Liga will be a tough challenge for the club, and it will be interesting to see how they fare. Sociedad have exciting youngsters and experienced campaigners in equal measure, and they will be looking to strike another blow to a Real Madrid team that have dropped four points in their last two league fixtures.

Juanmi will be crucial for the home side. The player has gotten off to a tremendous start in La Liga this term by scoring three goals in the first three matches, including the first goal in their eventual 2-4 win over La Coruna.  He’s scored in every game so far, and is right up there among the very best in-form players at the moment.

Predicted lineup (4-3-3): Rulli, Odriozola, Aritz, Martinez, Kevin, Illaramendi, Prieto, Zurutuza, Januzaj, Juanmi, Jose.

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Real Madrid

Zinedine Zidane will once again be without star man Cristiano Ronaldo as he continues to serve his suspension. Striker Karim Benzema is out until October, while central midfielder Mateo Kovacic picked up an injury in midweek, meaning he will be out as well.

Marcelo is also suspended after his red card against Levante at the weekend, although his ban was reduced from two games to one on Thursday. Toni Kroos is also expected to miss out which could provide scope for Dani Ceballos, who has been restricted to just two substitute appearances in all competitions this season.

A lot will be dependent on Sergio Ramos when it comes to stopping Juanmi on Sunday. The captain is a stoic figure in the Madrid back line and is capable of shutting down even the best striker on his day. Going forward he offers almost as much as he does at the back, which will make him one of the key players of the night.

Predicted lineup (4-3-3): Navas, Theo, Ramos, Carvajal, Varane, Casemiro, Ceballos, Modric, Asensio, Isco, Bale.

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Key Stats

  • Real Madrid have been utterly dominant against Sociedad of late, with the exception of that loss in 2014.
  • Real Madrid have won each of the last five La Liga meetings between the two teams – including 3-0 victories in both league matches last season.
  • Sociedad have actually only scored twice in their last five league games with Los Blancos, but the Basque outfit did record a 4-2 win over the Madrid giants when they met at the Anoeta in August 2014.
  • Sociedad won three successive league games against Real Madrid between April 2003 and May 2004, but have only been victorious on one occasion since.

Player To Watch

Gareth Bale

Manchester bound? (Photo courtesy - Gerard Julien/AFP/Getty Images)

Big day ahead. (Photo courtesy – Gerard Julien/AFP/Getty Images)

After a lot of boos and complaints, Gareth Bale has continued to keep his head down and produce good results for Madrid. Against APOEL, he supplied a beautiful ball for Ronaldo to tap in, and he has displayed some good form in the past against Sociedad.

Additionally, the fact that Ronaldo will miss this game, is likely to thrust a lot of spotlight on Bale anyway. Fans will be hoping he can put up a strong display and get things up and running against a seemingly formidable home side in Real Sociedad.

Prediction

Real Sociedad 1 – 3 Real Madrid

Madrid are favored in this match, but there is a very healthy amount of respect being afforded to Sociedad simply due to their stunning form so far. This is a tough one to call on many levels, but the pressure on Real Madrid to turn things around is far too great for them to come away with anything less than a win.

Besides, Real Sociedad weren’t good enough at the back last time out and it may be what lets them down here against the champions. While it would not be a surprise to see the two teams share the points on Sunday night, Real Madrid know how to churn out victories when needed. Hence, THT predicts an exciting 3-1 victory for the visitors.

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