Real Madrid will be aiming to take another step towards clinching the La Liga title when they lock horns with Real Sociedad this weekend.
Real Madrid will look to stretch their lead atop the La Liga standings and inch closer to the title when they play hosts to Real Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday night.
Real Madrid are currently five points clear of second-placed Sevilla in the table following back-to-back victories over Deportivo Alaves and Rayo Vallecano. But with a huge UEFA Champions League encounter against PSG coming up in midweek, Carlo Ancelotti will have an eye on that match, which could influence his team selection.
Real Sociedad, meanwhile, are firmly in the battle for a top-four finish. The Basque outfit occupy sixth place in the standings, behind Barcelona in fourth by just a point, although they have played a game more. Following a run of three games without a win in all competitions, La Real have picked up consecutive victories against Osasuna and Mallorca and will hope to build on that momentum when they visit the capital.
The reverse fixture saw Real Madrid beat Real Sociedad 2-0 with Vinicius Junior and Luka Jovic on target.
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— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) March 4, 2022
Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed that he has a near full-strength squad at his disposal, with midfielders Toni Kroos and Federico Valverde being the only absentees. However, the Italian insisted that he expected the duo to be back in time for the crucial clash against Paris Saint-Germain.
Despite the looming European tie, Ancelotti is unlikely to rotate his troops much and will field his strongest possible lineup. Thibaut Courtois is a certainty to feature between the sticks. David Alaba, who is back to full fitness, should return to the side, slotting in at the heart of the Real Madrid defence alongside Eder Militao. Dani Carvajal and Ferland Mendy are obvious picks in the full-back positions.
Casemiro, who will be suspended for the game against PSG, should feature for the entire of the ninety minutes against Sociedad and will look to curb the influence of David Silva. Luka Modric will have added responsibility on him in the absence of Kroos on Saturday. Eduardo Camavinga should occupy the third spot in the middle of the park and look to make an impact with his progressive passing.
Marco Asensio should keep hold of his spot on the right flank, while Vinicius Junior is a permanent fixture on the left. Karim Benzema should be the man leading the line for Real Madrid. Gareth Bale, Eden Hazard, Rodrygo Goes and Luka Jovic will provide options from the bench if Ancelotti decides to shuffle the pack in the second half.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Alaba, Mendy; Modric, Casemiro, Camavinga; Asensio, Benzema, Vinicius
Unlike Real Madrid, Real Sociedad have several notable absentees for the trip to the capital. Imanol Alguacil will have to make do without Ander Barrenetxea, Adnan Januzaj, Aihen Munoz, Nacho Monreal, Diego Rico and Carlos Fernandez on Saturday night. Igor Zubeldia, who missed the last game against Mallorca, is back in the squad for La Real.
— Real Sociedad Fútbol (@RealSociedad) March 4, 2022
Alguacil is unlikely to tinker with his preferred 4-2-3-1 setup. Sociedad will look to pressure Real Madrid into turnovers in the middle of the pitch before hitting them on the break at pace. Alex Remiro will guard the goal, hoping for another clean sheet. He will be shielded by the backline comprising Aritz Elustondo, Zubeldia, Robin Le Normand and Andoni Gorosabel.
Former Real Madrid midfielder Asier Illarramendi will occupy one of the pivot positions in the middle of the park and look to keep Luka Modric quiet. He will have support from the influential Mikel Merino, a summer transfer target for Real Madrid. David Silva, who was on target against Mallorca, will shoulder the creative burden, starting in the No. 10 role.
Mikel Oyarzabal will be a major thorn in the side for Real Madrid from the left flank, while Portu will look to cause problems from the right. The duo will pose a goal threat and try to fashion chances for Alexander Isak, who has been well below his best this term.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Remiro; Elustondo, Zubeldia, Le Normand, Gorosabel; Illarramendi, Merino; Portu, Silva, Oyarzabal; Isak
- After seven consecutive wins over Real Sociedad in La Liga between 2015 and 2018, Real Madrid have won just three of their last seven meetings with the Basque outfit in the competition (D2 L2).
- Real Sociedad have taken points in two of their previous three visits to Real Madrid in La Liga under manager Imanol Alguacil (W1 D1 L1).
- Real Madrid have not lost any of their last six La Liga games (W4 D2), keeping a clean sheet in their previous four.
- Real Sociedad have won just one of their prior ten visits to teams from Madrid in La Liga (D5 L4).
- Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has scored the winning goal in six games in La Liga this season, more than any other player, also winning more points via his goals (15) than any other player in the competition.
Player to Watch
– 16 goals.
– 11 assists.
– 3.7 dribbles per 90.
– 2.5 chances created per 90.
The Vinicius Jr show. 🌟 pic.twitter.com/IGuCdrHYwm
— TC (@totalcristiano) February 28, 2022
Vinicius Junior is enjoying by far the best campaign of his professional career, having already plundered 16 goals and 11 assists from 35 games in all competitions. However, the Brazilian’s form has been somewhat subdued since the turn of the year, with the forward scoring just one goal in his last eight appearances across all competitions.
Vinicius endured a quiet outing against Rayo Vallecano last time out. But with the vital PSG game coming up, Real Madrid need him firing on all cylinders. The clash against Real Sociedad comes at a good point for the 21-year-old, as he has scored in his last two La Liga appearances versus the Basque outfit, including in the reverse fixture earlier this season.
Real Madrid 1-0 Real Sociedad
After a dip in form, Real Sociedad have looked solid in their last two matches, picking up vital victories and not conceding any goals. However, they will come up against a strong and motivated Real Madrid unit, who, despite showing some vulnerabilities, have displayed the grit and strength to carve out victories.
The absence of Toni Kroos is likely to hurt them, and La Real are certain to make things difficult on Saturday night. But there is too much quality in this Real Madrid side, who have a near-impeccable record at home. A vital victory for Carlo Ancelotti’s men is on the cards on Saturday evening.