Real Madrid will be hoping to strengthen their grip at the top of the La Liga standings when they take on fellow title challengers, Real Sociedad, at Reale Arena.

Real Madrid will be aiming to consolidate their place at the summit of the 2021/22 La Liga table when they face off against Real Sociedad away from home at Reale Arena on Saturday night.

Real Madrid are sitting comfortably at the top of the table, having opened up a seven-point gap over second-placed Atletico Madrid, who do have a game in hand. Carlo Ancelotti’s men are on a ten-game unbeaten run in all competitions, having not lost since early October. They have won each of their last seven outings, most recently beating Athletic Bilbao 1-0 in the midweek.

The manager will be hoping that his team can carry the momentum forward and tighten their grip on the top spot in the standings. However, things will be anything but easy for the Spanish capital club as they gear up to face fellow title challengers, Real Sociedad. La Real had been the pacesetters for much of the season before enduring a minor dip in form.

Indeed, Imanol Alguacil’s side have won just one of their last four league games (D2 L1), with their most recent La Liga encounter ending in a 1-0 defeat to Espanyol, that ended a 13-game unbeaten run in the competition, leading to them dropping to third in the table. They did recover from that loss to beat Panaderia Pulido in Copa del Rey earlier this week but will need to step it up a notch when they take on the league leaders.

Team News & Tactics

Real Sociedad

Real Sociedad will have to deal with the injury-enforced absence of Nacho Monreal, David Silva, Mikel Merino, Asier Illarramendi and Carlos Fernandez, while Aritz Elustondo is set to miss out due to a suspension. Imanol Alguacil will make several changes to the side that started in the cup tie in midweek, with most of the regulars expected to return to the starting XI.

Alex Remiro will be reinstated between the goalposts for the home team, where he will be shielded by the centre-back pairing of Igor Zubeldia and Robin Le Normand. The duo will likely be flanked by Andoni Gorosabel and Diego Rico as the full-backs on the right and left sides, respectively. The former will have his hands full dealing with the lively Vinicius Junior.

With Merino missing out, Ander Guevara is expected to start again in the middle of the park, featuring alongside Martin Zubimendi with the pair tasked with shutting out their Real Madrid counterparts. With no David Silva, Mikel Oyarzabal could find himself starting as the No. 10, taking over the chance-creation duties for his side.

Adnan Januzaj and Portu, who scored in the midweek cup tie, should line up out on the flanks for Sociedad while Alexander Isak spearheads the attack against Real Madrid.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Remiro; Gorosabel, Zubeldia, Le Normand, Rico; Guevara, Zubimendi; Portu, Oyarzabal, Januzaj; Isak

Real Madrid

Dani Ceballos and Gareth Bale are the only two players unavailable for selection for Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti. The Italian has been reluctant to his troops despite the unforgiving fixture schedule and is unlikely to change his approach ahead of two big games against Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid.

There is no looking past Thibaut Courtois between the sticks for Los Blancos, where he will be shielded by the newly-forged centre-back partnership of Eder Militao and David Alaba. Dani Carvajal, who was rested in midweek against Athletic Bilbao, should return at right-back while Ferland Mendy is expected to continue on the left.

Luka Modric continues to perform week in week out at the highest level despite his advancing age. The veteran midfielder should keep his spot in the starting XI against Real Sociedad, along with his usual partners in crime in the form of Toni Kroos and Casemiro. Summer signing Eduardo Camavinga will have to bide his time to get a regular run in the side.

Marco Asensio has started the last couple of matches out on the flanks but looked jaded in the midweek win against Athletic. The Spaniard should make way for the dynamic Rodrygo Goes on the right side for the club while in-form superstar Vinicius Junior slots in on the left. Karim Benzema will be the man to lead the attack for Real Madrid against Sociedad.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Alaba, Mendy; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Rodrygo, Benzema, Vinicius

Key Stats

  • Real Madrid and Real Sociedad have drawn in their last two La Liga meetings – 0-0 at Reale Arena in September 2020 and 1-1 in March earlier this year.
  • Real Sociedad have won just two of their last 14 home La Liga games against Real Madrid (D3 L9).
  • Real Madrid have won six of their last seven away matches in La Liga (D1 L1).
  • Real Sociedad lost their last La Liga game 1-0 to Espanyol, which brought to an end a 13-game unbeaten streak in the competition.
  • Real Madrid star Vinicius Junior has scored nine goals in 15 games in La Liga this season. He could become the first player born in 2000 or later to reach double figures for goals in the same season in the Spanish top-flight.

Player to Watch 

Rodrygo Goes

Time to step up and deliver for Rodrygo (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

Time to step up and deliver for Rodrygo (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

With all the limelight on the attacking duo of Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo Goes has gone somewhat under the radar at Real Madrid. Matters have not been helped by a few injury issues, with the 20-year-old having started just four La Liga games so far this term as a result. So, his paltry return of two goals and two assists from 19 games should not come as a shock.

However, at the same time, it is very well known that the Brazilian sensation is capable of so much more. With the likes of Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio pushing for starting berths, Rodrygo will need to make an impression on his manager in the next few matches to establish himself as a regular in the starting XI.

Prediction

Real Sociedad 1-2 Real Madrid

Real Sociedad have somewhat fizzled out after a fine start to the season and have failed to win each of their last two league outings, while their performances in Europe have also taken a dip. Meanwhile, Real Madrid have seven wins in a row in all competitions and have shown a great mentality to come out on top when under pressure.

Considering the form that Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior are in, Los Blancos are capable of testing any defence. The Hard Tackle predicts yet another victory for Carlo Ancelotti’s side which will strengthen their position at the top of the La Liga standings.

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