What: Spanish La Liga
Who: Real Madrid vs Real Sociedad
When: Sunday 6th January, 2013, at 16:00 UK time
Where: Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain


Real Madrid’s recent 3-2 loss to Malaga left the club in turmoil, as the gap between Los Blancos and league leaders Barcelona widened to 16 points. Adding insult to injury, the benching of Iker Casillas has gained Jose Mourinho more jeers than praise and many have called in for the sacking of the Portuguese boss. In desperate need of reconciliation with their angry fans, the reigning league champions will have a chance to do so against Real Sociedad.

The big question before this match will be whether Mourinho will reinstate his captain in the starting line-up. Against Real Sociedad, the coach has a real defensive problem, as Pepe joins long-term absentee Marcelo on the sidelines, while Sergio Ramos will miss this one as a result of an accumulation of yellow cards. Meanwhile, Fabio Coentrao is in hot water after showing up late for the first training of the new year.

Whilst conceding the difficulty of winning of the league, Ramos hinted that his team should now focus on new objectives for the season, and to get back to winning ways against Real Sociedad. “We have to win and what better way to start than by doing so against Real Sociedad”, said the defender.

All Out

With Real Madrid enduring a bad spell lately, Real Sociedad can mimic Malaga and add insult to injury for the 32-time league champions. However, Philippe Montanier’s side will have to play a great game should they want to return to the Basque community with even a point, as the hosts are undefeated in their last 20 league home games.

Real Sociedad do not have a favourable record playing against Real Madrid in recent years, as they have lost their last seven outings against the team from the capital. Furthermore, their last two visits to the Santiago Bernabeu have been heavy drubbings, with Real Madrid winning 5-1 in March 2012 and 4-0 in February 2011.

However, midfielder Gorka Elustondo believes that his side should not let themselves be bullied on the occasion. “They will come at us at two hundred percent, but we should also take to the pitch in this fashion. I think we have to go out and play head to head against Real Madrid, without playing a defensive game because we can hurt them with our attacking players.”

Real Sociedad will be buoyed by the fact that they have returned victorious from some of Spain’s most important venues such as La Rosaleda and the Mestalla, against Malaga and Valencia, respectively. There is no better time for them to record a legendary win at the Bernabeu.

Recent form

Real Madrid:
Celta Vigo 2-1 Real Madrid (12/12; Copa del Rey)
Real Madrid 2-2 Espanyol (16/12; La Liga)
Malaga 3-2 Real Madrid (22/12; La Liga)

Real Sociedad:
Real Sociedad 1-1 Getafe (08/12; La Liga)
Granada 0-0 Real Sociedad (15/12; La Liga)
Real Sociedad 2-1 Sevilla (20/12; La Liga)

Key absences

Real Madrid: Pepe; Marcelo; Raul Albiol; Sergio Ramos (suspended)

Real Sociedad: Carlos Martinez; Asier Illarramendi

Players to watch

Real Madrid – Raphael Varane: The Frenchman will be handed another chance to shine as regular centre-backs Pepe and Ramos miss this one. Varane has been receiving praise with every passing game and there can be no doubt that he is a star in the making, despite his tender years.

Real Sociedad – Antoine Griezmann: The winger will relish the chance to test the Real Madrid defence at the Bernabeu. Griezmann can be a nuisance should he be left to play as he pleases.

Match Prediction

Real Madrid need to win this one, plain and simple. The injury to Pepe comes as a hard blow for a defence that has shown signs of weakness in the absence of Marcelo. On a more positive note, the return to action of Gonzalo Higuain after a spell on the sidelines will rejuvenate Mourinho’s attack. Real Sociedad will fancy their chances and have some players who have excelled this season, such as Carlos Vela, but a win at the Bernabeu looks far-fetched. Real Madrid 2-0 Real Sociedad.

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