Atletico Madrid will be hoping to stretch their lead at the top of the La Liga standings when they take on Real Sociedad on Matchday 36 this midweek.

With just three games left to be played, the 2020/21 La Liga race is still far from decided, with three teams – Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and reigning champions Real Madrid all very much in the hunt. On Wednesday night, Atletico Madrid, who are currently leading the chasing pack, will have an opportunity to extend their advantage when they face off against Real Sociedad at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Atletico Madrid have just a slender one-point advantage over second-placed Barcelona, who were held to a 3-3 draw by Levante on Tuesday night. Title holders, Real Madrid, meanwhile are just two points shy of Diego Simeone’s men, who will need to bounce back to winning ways after their goalless stalemate against Barcelona at the weekend, in order to put further distance between themselves and their rivals.

Real Sociedad, meanwhile, are fifth in La Liga and look well-positioned to achieve qualification for the UEFA Europa League. However, with seventh-placed Villarreal just four points shy, Imanol Alguacil’s side will need to avoid any slip-ups between now and the end of the season, and hope to build on their 2-0 win over Elche last time out to strengthen their grip on the fifth place.

The reverse fixture, played in December last year saw Atletico Madrid beat Real Sociedad 2-0 with second half goals from Mario Hermoso and Marcos Llorente. Ahead of their latest meeting on Wednesday night at the Wanda Metropolitano, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.

Team News & Tactics

Atletico Madrid

Atletico Madrid will once again have to make do with the absence of Thomas Lemar, who remains sidelined with an injury while key defender Jose Maria Gimenez is also a major doubt for the fixture against Real Sociedad. The hosts are likely to line up in a 4-4-2 formation on Wednesday night when La Real come into town.

Jan Oblak, who was the standout performer for Atleti in the draw against Barcelona, continues between the sticks, where he will be shielded by the backline comprising of Kieran Trippier, Stefan Savic, Felipe and Mario Hermoso, although the latter will usually tuck inside while Trippier will take up a higher position, to give it a feel of a three-man backline when Atletico are in possession.

Captain Koke will hold the fort down in the middle of the park and look to dictate the tempo of the game for Atletico Madrid. He is likely to receive support from Saul Niguez, whose quality on the ball could be key in unlocking the Real Sociedad defence.

Yannick Carrasco and Marcos Llorente ought to be the wide midfielders on the right and left sides respectively, tasked to provide the forward thrust. While the former will look to be direct and stay wide, the latter will look to cut in-field and play closer to the forwards, leaving space out wide for Trippier to make bombarding runs forward.

Luis Suarez and Angel Correa, who has been in good touch of late, ought to be the two forwards for the league leaders with Joao Felix an option from the bench, along with January signing Moussa Dembele, who is a transfer target for Arsenal.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Oblak; Trippier, Savic, Felipe, Hermoso; Llorente, Koke, Saul, Carrasco; Correa, Suarez

Real Sociedad

Real Sociedad have as many as four players unavailable for their trip to the Spanish capital as Luca Sangalli, Carlos Fernandez, Aihen Munoz and Mikel Merino all miss out with injuries. Imanol Alguacil, as usual, is expected to set his team up in a 4-2-3-1 formation in front of goalkeeper Alex Remiro when his team takes the field at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Andoni Gorosabel and veteran Nacho Monreal ought to be the two full-backs for La Real with the duo likely to play on the front foot and make attacking runs whenever an opportunity presents itself. Aritz Elustondo and Robin Le Normand ought to be the two centre-backs, who will have the unenviable task of keeping the nippy duo of Suarez and Correa quiet.

Defensive support from midfield will come from the duo of Martin Zubimendi and Ander Guevara, who will be the workhorse on the pitch for Real Sociedad. Slotting in as the No. 10 and looking to create openings for the attackers will be former Manchester City superstar David Silva.

Mikel Oyarzabal, who is attracting interest from the likes of Manchester United and Real Madrid, is a certainty to feature out on the left-wing whereas Portu ought to start on the right flank and look to support the lone striker who ought to be Alexander Isak.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Remiro; Gorosabel, Elustondo, Le Normand, Monreal; Guevara, Zubimendi; Portu, Silva, Oyarzabal; Isak

Key Stats

  • Atletico Madrid are unbeaten in the last seven league matches against Real Sociedad at the Wanda Metropolitano (6W, 1D), keeping five clean sheets in the process.
  • Real Sociedad have won three of their last four La Liga games, after not winning any of their previous five (2D, 3L).
  • Atletico Madrid have  have only lost once in their last five La Liga games against Real Sociedad (3W, 1D) – a 2-0 away defeat in September 2019.
  • Real Sociedad haven’t lost in their last three visits to Madrid teams in La Liga (W1 D2), after losing the previous three. They haven’t gone four without an away defeat against such opposition in the competition since 1980 (W1 D3).
  • Marcos Llorente has been involved in five of Atletico Madrid’s last six league goals (3G, 2A) and has either scored or assisted their last four goals at the Wanda Metropolitano in the competition (2G, 2A).

Player to Watch

Luis Suarez

At this crucial juncture of the season, it is time for Atletico Madrid’s most experienced player to step up to the plate and deliver. Having arrived from Barcelona last summer, Suarez has made quite the impact for Los Rojiblancos acting as their chief source of goals along with Marcos Llorente. However, since his return from injury the Uruguayan has looked a bit off colour, failing to find the back of the net in each of his last three games.

But with the title on the line, Suarez will need to start pulling his weight in the side and make a difference after a dour display against his former employers Barcelona at the weekend. It bodes well that the 34-year-old enjoys playing against Real Sociedad considering that he has been involved in 10 goals in 11 league matches versus La Real (5G, 6A). A big game beckons the seasoned campaigner.

Prediction

Atletico Madrid 1-1 Real Sociedad

Atletico Madrid weren’t able to get maximum points against Barcelona last time out, meaning they have just one win in their last three games (D1 L1). In Real Sociedad they will be facing a team that is on the rise, having won three in their last four matches. So, it is going to be quite tricky for Diego Simeone’s men who have had some troubles against teams in the top six this term. That is why The Hard Tackle is predicting this one to end in a 1-1 draw, throwing the title race wide open.

Leave A Comment...

*