Real Madrid will be aiming to close the gap to the top of the La Liga table when they lock horns with Real Sociedad at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano on Monday.
Real Madrid will be hoping to keep up the pressure on neighbours and current La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid when they face off against Real Sociedad in Matchweek 25 on Monday night.
After a dip in form, Real Madrid have recovered strongly winning five games in a row in all competitions, most recently defeating Atalanta 1-0 in the UEFA Champions League. Prior to that, Los Blancos had triumphed in four consecutive league games which put them just three points shy of Atletico and a win on Monday could take them level with the leaders, provided they lose to Villarreal on Sunday.
Real Sociedad, meanwhile, will be aiming to cut the six-point gap to fourth-placed Sevilla with a victory. Imanol Alguacil’s men are unbeaten in their last two games, beating Alaves 4-0 at the weekend before playing out a goalless draw against Manchester United in the second leg of UEFA Europa League Round of 32 second tie, which saw them get eliminated from the competition.
The reverse fixture between Real Madrid and Real Sociedad, played at Anoeta last September, had ended in a goalless stalemate. And ahead of their latest encounter this Monday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
Zinedine Zidane’s injury problems finally seem to be easing a bit as the Real Madrid manager will welcome back Federico Valverde, Rodrygo Goes, Marcelo and Alvaro Odriozola are all available again. Karim Benzema and Eden Hazard have also made some progress but will miss out on Monday while Sergio Ramos, Eder Militao and Dani Carvajal remain unavailable.
Despite the injury boosts, it is unlikely that Zidane will make changes to the team that defeated Atalanta earlier in the week and has been doing well of late. Thibaut Courtois is a certain starter in goal while the flourishing centre-back partnership of Raphael Varane and Nacho should remain intact as well.
Despite Odriozola’s return to the fold, Zidane is likely to stick with Lucas Vazquez at right-back while Ferland Mendy, who was Real Madrid’s match-winner against Atalanta should start again. The duo will look to provide constant outlets on their respective flanks but will need to be wary of the threat posed by the Sociedad wide players.
Casemiro is an ever-present at the base of the three-man midfield unit for Real Madrid. Luka Modric and Toni Kroos have been playing non-stop but with Valverde only just returning to fitness, the veteran duo ought to feature again and act as the primary creators for the home team.
Marco Asensio and Vinicius Junior should get another opportunity to make an impact from the wide areas, whereas Isco, who impressed playing in an unfamiliar position as the false-nine against Atalanta should hold on to his place ahead of Mariano Diaz.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Courtois; Vazquez, Varane, Nacho, Mendy; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Asensio, Isco, Vinicius Jr.
For Real Sociedad, Aritz Elustondo misses out with injury once again as do Joseba Zaldua and Luca Sangalli. In addition, Mikel Merino is ruled out because of suspension while club captain and former Real Madrid midfielder Asier Illarramendi is also not included in the squad named by manager Imanol Alguacil.
The visitors should set up in a 4-3-3 formation mirroring that of the reigning champions, with Alex Remiro set to man the goal. Robin Le Normand, who missed the Manchester United clash due to suspension, is available again and should start alongside Igor Zubeldia at the heart of the Real Sociedad defence.
— Real Sociedad Fútbol (@RealSociedad) February 28, 2021
Andoni Gorosabel ought to get the nod at right-back again while Nacho Monreal is in line to return on the opposite side, in place of Aihen Munoz who started in midweek. Gorosabel will look to drive up the pitch regularly but Monreal is likely to stay back and assist the centre-backs.
With Illarramendi missing, Martin Zubimendi should line up as the holding midfielder once again hoping to stifle the creative threat posed by Toni Kroos and Luka Modric. He will seek support from Jon Guridi, while David Silva will take up the third midfield slot and act as the chief chance-creator for the visiting side.
Portu, who scored in the win against Alaves last week, ought to get the nod over Adnan Januzaj out on the right-wing while Mikel Oyarzabal is a certain starter on the left. Spearheading the attack for Sociedad should once again be Alexander Isak, who has scored in each of his last five La Liga appearances.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Remiro; Gorosabel, Zubeldia, Le Normand, Monreal; Silva, Zubimendi, Guridi; Portu, Isak, Oyarzabal
- Real Madrid are undefeated in 27 of their last 30 home matches in La Liga.
- Real Sociedad have lost just one of their last eight games in La Liga (W4 D3), winning each of the last three.
- Real Madrid have won four games in a row in La Liga, keeping a clean sheet in three of those matches.
- Against no other side have Real Sociedad lost more La Liga games than they have versus Real Madrid (83, level with Barcelona).
- Karim Benzema has been directly involved in twelve goals in his ten home games against Real Sociedad across all competitions.
Player to Watch
— MARCA in English (@MARCAinENGLISH) February 27, 2021
Given the number of injuries that Real Madrid have had of late, the Spanish international was given an extended run in the side. But the 25-year-old has failed to make the most of his opportunities in recent games. A return of two goals and two assists from 30 games is just not good enough for a player of his ability.
With Rodrygo back to fitness, the winger’s spot will once again come under threat. Having failed to score or assist a goal in his last five games across all competitions, Asensio will need to capitalise on his chance on Monday night or he could once again be relegated to bench-warming duties in the games to come.
Real Madrid 1-0 Real Sociedad
Both teams come into the game on the back of a strong run of results in league football. Real Madrid have won four in a row conceding just one while Real Sociedad have come out on top in their last three, letting in just one goal as well. So, it could be a close match at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano.
But Real Madrid’s home record has been top-notch and even though they are missing a few key players, Zinedine Zidane’s side have shown impressive resilience in recent matches. That should come to the fore once again on Monday night with The Hard Tackle predicting a narrow win for the reigning champions.