After their good job against Borussia Dortmund in Champions League last Wednesday, our players face today the biggest challenge that awaits for us in La Liga. If Madrid has still any bullet in the chamber, it's time to use it to keep our short options to be the champions.
It won't be an easy thing. Although Real Sociedad is not the dazzling team that astonished Spain with their more than attractive style and their qualification to the Champions League, they still have a good weapon store that can break any rival down. Barça can confirm that after having been defeated -and, if you allow me to brag a little, outplayed- by 3-1 in Anoeta last February. That match was the first in an irregular series of games by the Basques, who have obtained two wins, two draws and two losses ever since.
Real Sociedad's roster is pretty much the same it was last season, other than the critical loss of Asier Illarramendi, who was a key item in their system and is now growing up with us to become an even greater player. However, the manager change has resulted in a less recognizable team, that changes its style game after game to pursue the best way to confront its rivals.
The skeleton is clear: the Chilean goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, the left-footed centerback Iñigo Martínez and the fast strikers Antoine Griezmann and Carlos Vela will for sure be in the lineup, while the captain Xabi Prieto will not be able to participate due to an injury. Aside of that, it's hard to predict. Arrasate may choose a preservative 4-3-3 with a false 9 like our former player Canales or a more offensive system with Agirretxe upfront getting into the physical battle with our centerbacks.
Real Madrid will travel to San Sebastián with a depleted staff. Ronaldo will stay in Madrid to fully recover from his pain, while Di María will be on the list, although he will start in the bench. As our coach confirmed back in the press conference, Isco will play, while Morata might have a chance to occupy Ronaldo's spot.
The players called up by our coach were:
Goalkeepers: Diego López, Casillas, Jesús.
Defenders: Varane, Pepe, Ramos, Coentrão, Carvajal, Nacho.
Midfielders: Xabi Alonso, Casemiro, Modric, Di María, Isco, Illarra, Medrán.
Strikers: Bale, Benzema, Morata, Willian José.
Projected lineup: Diego López; Nacho, Varane, Ramos, Coentrão; Illarramendi, Modric, Isco; Morata, Benzema, Bale.
Real Sociedad vs. Real Madrid: Saturday, April 5th at 20:00 CET/14:00 EST/11:00 PST.