La Liga 17/18 Gameweek 23: Real Madrid vs Real Sociedad– Lineups, Preview and Prediction

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(Photo credit: Oleg Dubyna)

19:45 GMT, Saturday 10th February, Santiago Bernabeu (Madrid, Spain) Sky Sports Football

Just as Real Madrid fans were beginning to believe that their team had turned a corner, spirits are low once again at the Bernabeu. A 4-1 away win against Valencia a fortnight ago saw Zidane's side play with some of the characteristic grace that saw them crowned champions of Europe and Spain last season. Last week's 2-2 draw against newly-promoted Levante brought them crashing back down to earth. 


Los Blancos are now 19 points behind league-leaders Barcelona and ten points below city rivals Atletico. Most concerningly, Real are only two points ahead of fifth-placed Villarreal and their place in next year's Champions League remains under threat. 

Real Sociedad continued their wildly inconsistent form with a 5-0 win last week against Deportivo La Coruna, ending a losing streak of four games. After an impressive start to the season, the Basque side have won only two of their last eleven games. Poor recent form has seen them slip to 14th position, seven points behind sixth-placed Sevilla. 

La Real have enjoyed their participation in this season's Europa League and will be disappointed if they fail to at least match last season's top six finish. They showed that they are capable of competing at the top-end of the table with their 3-1 demolition of Sevilla in December. If they can reproduce that level of performance then they might just cause an upset on Saturday night. 

Last Time Out

Levante 2-2 Real Madrid (La Liga)

Despite dominating the opposition in terms of possession and shots on goal, Real Madrid failed to create many genuine goal-scoring opportunities. With Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo particularly ineffective, Real could never quite kill the game off and were ultimately punished for their profligacy.

An 11th-minute header from Sergio Ramos gave the visitors an early lead. Real failed to assert themselves, however, and Emmanuel Boateng took advantage of some poor defending to pull the scores level just before half time. 


Real Madrid continued to push for the winner and were eventually rewarded after Isco stroked home in the 81st minute, following some impressive hold-up play from Karim Benzema. 

Once again, Zidane's side switched off at the back, allowing substitute Giampaolo Pazzini to score a late equaliser. 

Real Sociedad 5-0 Deportivo La Coruna (La Liga)

With confidence low at Anoeta, Real Sociedad confounded expectations and produced one of their best performances of the season. 

La Real looked comfortable in all aspects of the game and restricted their opponents to only one shot on target. 

Willian Jose broke the deadlock after 32 minutes to give the home side a 1-0 lead heading into the break. 

After half-time, the visitors were in complete defensive disarray and Real Sociedad proved more than willing to seize their opportunities. 


A long-range free-kick from Asier Illarramendi doubled his side's lead on the hour mark, before the floodgates began to open. 

Awful defending from Deportivo La Coruna allowed Sergio Canales and Aritz Elustondo to cash in with goals of their own. Some comical play at the back allowed in the dying moments allowed Asier Illarramendi to slot in his second and his side's fifth.

Real Madrid Lineup

Zinedine Zidane cannot blame injury problems on Madrid's current form and has an almost full squad to pick from this weekend. 

The only serious long-term injury doubt is defender Jesus Vallejo (thigh), who is not due to return until at least the middle of March. 


Real Sociedad Lineup

Eusebio Sacristan will be without two key players on Saturday night. 

Attacking midfielder Adnan Januzaj (groin) is out injured, along with top-scorer Willian Jose (metatarsal). 


Key Battle: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) vs Imanol Agirretxe (Real Sociedad)

Against Levante last week, Karim Benzema was one of the few positive influences in attack. With both Bale and Ronaldo looking increasingly isolated, Benzema impressed with some astute positional and hold-up play. His work to provide Isco's opportunity showed flashes of his very best form and he even provided a rare moment of dazzling footwork in the opponent's box. 

The 30-year-old has had a poor season by his own high standards and has only scored two goals in La Liga. He is running out of opportunities to secure his place in the first team but his form is quietly improving. 

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(Photo credit: Jan Solo)


Injury to Willian Jose means that back-up striker Imanol Agirretxe will most likely be leading the line on Saturday night. The 30-year-old has been at Real Sociedad for his entire career but has only reached double figures in the goal-scoring charts on three occasions. 

Agirretxe has returned this season after taking almost two years out of the game to recover from a recurring ankle injury. He has only played 47 minutes of this season, but has been the first choice replacement striker in recent weeks and will be desperate to take his chance on Saturday.

Talking Points

Are Real Madrid in genuine danger of missing out on the top four?

Much has been made of how Real Madrid's domestic season is already over and that the Champions League is now their only focus. There is, however, plenty to play for in La Liga. Every time Real Madrid slip-up, fifth-placed Villarreal seem to grow in confidence that they can leapfrog the champions into the top four. Only two points separate Los Blancos from the Yellow Submarine and one more loss could see Zidane's side slip out of the Champions League qualification places.

Real Madrid still have to play their game in hand against Leganes, but are no means guaranteed to win on current form. There is a real danger that in giving up on the league, Real could lose out on a lot more than the title. 

Can Real Sociedad recover from the loss of Inigo Martinez?


Athletic Bilbao quickly reinvested part of the substantial fee received for Aymeric Laporte by triggering the release clause of Real Sociedad defender Inigo Martinez. The 26-year-old had been at La Real for the entirety of his career and a move to Basque rivals Athletic has come as a huge blow to the Anoeta faithful. A Spanish international, the centre-back was one of Real Sociedad's key defensive cogs. Not only is Martinez a competent defensive presence, he is also comfortable on the ball, which suited his former side to a tee. 

Mexican international Hector Moreno has been signed as an initial replacement, but will take a while to gain full match fitness as he has had limited playing time at Roma this season. For a side in desperate need of defensive consistency, the departure of Martinez could not have come at a worse time. 

Prediction: Real Madrid 2-1 Real Sociedad

Saturday's visitors are full of surprises and tend to rise to the big occasion. As a result, Real Sociedad will back themselves to provide a genuine challenge to an under-pressure Real Madrid outfit. Los Blancos will have their sights firmly set upon their upcoming Champions League tie with PSG and may just give Real Sociedad the chance to steal a result. That being said, the loss of Willian Jose will hit the away side hard and continued defensive frailties may see them struggle. 

Will Real Madrid overturn their recent poor form ahead of their PSG clash?Let us know in the comments section below...