Spanish giants Real Madrid are in action as they prepare to take on high-flying Real Sociedad for the La Liga clash at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid on Sunday. Los Blancos will be aiming to make it four wins in a row across all competitions and cut the deficit to league leaders Barcelona to just three points.
Meanwhile, Real Sociedad are in third place and they themselves trail Real Madrid by three points. A win here will help the Basque outfit draw level on points with the defending champions of Spain although the latter do have a game in hand.
Since their complete capitulation at the hands of Barcelona where they not only suffered a 3-1 loss in the final of the Spanish Super Cup in Riyadh but were also taught a footballing lesson, Real Madrid have responded positively and have bounced back well. Carlo Ancelotti’s side have won all of their last three fixtures against Villarreal, Athletic Bilbao, and Atletico de Madrid in the Copa Del Rey and La Liga respectively and are currently on a hot three-game winning streak.
Los Blancos conceded an early goal in the first half of the Madrid derby with Atletico Madrid in Thursday’s Copa Del Rey quarter-final. However, Rodrygo scored a spectacular goal to equalise the contest and force extra-time. Real Madrid had the last laugh in extra time as Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr scored twice to put the game to bed and secured a 3-1 victory over Diego Simeone’s outfit to progress to the semi-final of the Copa Del Rey.
Ancelotti’s side were also victorious in La Liga last weekend and secured a 2-0 triumph over Athletic Bilbao at the San Mames. Benzema and Toni Kroos scored twice in each half to seal crucial three points away from home as Real Madrid continue to sit second in La Liga, behind Barcelona.
Los Blancos trailed their Catalan rivals by three points but a win over Girona in another Catalan Derby helped Xavi’s side to momentarily extend their lead at the top of the table to six points.
Real Madrid are facing an incredibly busy few weeks, as they also have the Club World Cup to think about, with their semi-final fixture set to take place on February 8 ahead of a possible final three days later.
The Spanish giants will also have to face the threat of Liverpool in the Champions League. The first leg of the Round of 16 clash between the two sides will take place in England on February 21. Real Madrid will be well aware that given the kind of form that Barcelona have been in, there is little room for errors and they cannot avoid further slip ups if they wish to defend their league title. Meanwhile, they have also not been victorious in the Copa Del Rey in several years and will be looking to end that drought as well.
Real Madrid have won their last two La Liga matches against Real Sociedad, while they are unbeaten at home to the Basque outfit in the league since January 2019; Ancelotti’s side have also not lost at Bernabeu in La Liga this term, picking up 17 points from their seven matches.
Real Sociedad are arriving into this game on the back of a 1-0 loss to Barcelona in the Copa Del Rey quarter-final clash at the Camp Nou. Imanol Alguacil’s side had no answers to the brilliance of Ousmane Dembele who scored the only goal of the game. However, it was their first defeat in any competition since the 1-0 loss to Manchester United in the Europa League reverse fixture at the beginning of November.
That kind of sums up the wonderful run of form that Alguacil’s men have been in and they have been flying high this season. On the domestic front, the Basque outfit have won each of their last five matches against Sevilla, Osasuna, Almeria, Athletic Bilbao and Rayo Vallecano, which has allowed them to move into third spot in the table on 38 points.
They are currently just six points behind league leaders Barcelona and trail their rivals on Sunday, Real Madrid, by three points. Although Los Blancos and the league leaders do have a game in hand over Sociedad, a win at the Bernabeu could put them in the equation for the title fight in La Liga this season.
The White and Blues have not finished in the top four since the 2012-13 campaign, so it would be a huge achievement to secure a Champions League spot, and they are currently seven points clear of fourth-placed Atletico, which is a strong cushion at this stage of the campaign
Alguacil will be well aware of the psychological ramifications from the Copa Del Rey exit at the hands of Barcelona. Although he wouldn’t have preferred travelling to Madrid after the defeat to Barcelona, Real Sociedad must remind themselves that they have been spell-binding all season and have more than enough quality to upset the defending champions in front of their own fans.
Sociedad’s last action in the league was against Rayo Vallecano on January 21. Alexander Sorloth and Ander Barrenetxea scored two goals in the first half to take a commanding lead and the Basque side preferred to see out the rest of the game in the second half to take all three points.
Sorloth has been in great form in front of goal but he was guilty of missing a gilt-edged opportunity towards the closing stages of the game at the Camp Nou this week. He will be hoping to make amends against Madrid.
Real Sociedad have the third-best away record in Spain’s top flight this season, picking up 21 points from nine matches, and they will be hopeful that the extra day of rest following the Copa del Rey quarter-finals could provide them an advantage in this match.
RMA vs RSO, La Liga 2022/23
Date: 30th January, 2023
Time: 1:30 AM IST
Venue: Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
Real Madrid La Liga 2022/23 form:
Real Madrid form (all competitions):
Real Sociedad La Liga 2022/23 form:
Real Sociedad form (all competitions):
Real Madrid wins: 18
Real Sociedad wins: 4
Real Madrid Team News:
While Real Madrid were expecting to re-introduce David Alaba into the mix following his successful recuperation, the Austrian defender had to be taken off the squad on a short notice after an injury relapse. He has apparently suffered another setback in his recovery from a calf problem and will be ruled out of the squad once again for this high-profile contest.
Lucas Vazquez will also miss another couple of weeks as he continues to recover from the ankle issue that he suffered during the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia. Aurelien Tchouameni (calf) and Dani Carvajal (muscle) are also still out, while Ferland Mendy is missing with the thigh problem that he suffered against Atletico.
On a more positive note though, Rodrygo, who scored the all-important equaliser against Los Rojiblancos has been declared fit after a minor Achilles problem. Eden Hazard is also expected to be in the reckoning and may make it to the matchday squad.
Eduardo Camavinga could get the nod at left-back due to Mendy’s absence, while Dani Ceballos may play alongside Toni Kroos and Luka Modric in midfield, with Federico Valverde starting on the right side of the attack.
Real Sociedad Team News:
Coming to Real Sociedad, they are missing a whole host of players due to injuries. The list includes Umar Sadiq, David Silva, Jon Pacheco, Mohamed Ali-Cho, Andoni Gorosabel, Mikel Merino, Ander Guevara, Alex Sola and Martin Merquelanz.
While Brais Mendez was sent off after rash challenges in the first half against Barcelona in the Copa Del Rey, that suspension doesn’t come into play here in La Liga and the midfielder will be available for the trip to the Spanish capital.
The same side that took to the field for the first whistle against Xavi’s team could start again here, with Mikel Oyarzabal potentially joining Alexander Sorloth in the final third of the field.
Real Madrid possible starting lineup:
Courtois; Nacho, Militao, Rudiger, Camavinga; Kroos, Ceballos, Modric; Valverde, Benzema, Vinicius
Real Sociedad possible starting lineup:
Remiro; Elustondo, Zubeldia, Le Normand, Rico; Mendez, Zubimendi, Marin; Kubo; Oyarzabal, Sorloth
This is a difficult result to predict and it could end up being a cracker of a match. Both Real Sociedad and Real Madrid have been in strong form lately and have shown that they are capable of going toe-to-toe with the very best. Real Sociedad will fancy their chances of claiming a positive result and throwing their name into the title mix while Real Madrid will be desperate to avoid defeat at any costs ahead of a busy and cramped portion of the calendar. Therefore, it won’t be surprising to see this game end in a draw between the two sides.