Real Madrid are getting ready to host Real Sociedad at the Bernabeu this evening in what can only be viewed as a must-win match and an absolutely crucial three points. Barcelona are playing away at Mallorca a few hours before the Real Madrid and Sociedad kickoff, so they could exert even more pressure on the league leaders with a victory on the island.
As we now know, los blancos will go without Jose Mourinho, la Liga's assist leader Mesut Ozil, Pepe and Lass Diarra all due to suspensions of varying degrees.
On the subject of discipline and suspensions, Ben Hayward at Goal.com has an interesting article on the eye-opening total of 22 red cards that Real Madrid have accumulated over the course of Jose Mourinho's first 103 matches in charge of the club. This is more evidence of the lack of emotional control and discipline we've been discussing that sometimes overcomes this tremendously talented yet tempestuously temperamental side. It's certainly worth a read.
The club's website is reporting that Fabio Coentrao, Raul Albiol, Nuri Sahin and promising Real Madrid Castilla youngster Jese are on the squad list for today's match and will be available for selection. I expect Coentrao to be named in the starting eleven and I'm curious to see if Raphael Varane will feature today. I'm also wondering if Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema will be used together in the attack.
Real Sociedad are currently sitting 14th in the table and have lost four of their last six league matches overall. The Basque side have also lost their last four away matches and their last six matches to Real Madrid in all competitions, according to WhoScored.com. To make matters even worse for Real Sociedad, they too are going into this match with suspension woes and will be without defensive midfielder Gorka Elustondo and defender Dani Estrada. Estrada's absence may force manager Philippe Montanier to reconfigure his backline and field players out of their natural position, an advantage I expect Real Madrid to quickly identify and exploit.
This match will be a true test of team character and I expect los blancos will rise to the occasion and deliver a resounding, much needed victory.
Enjoy the match everyone. Hala Madrid!