Following a tough match last time out, this time Los Blancos will look to put in a more reassuring performance this weekend against Real Sociedad but they'll have to do it without their talisman Cristiano Ronaldo who is out for two games. David Moyes himself has recently finished serving a two game touchline ban so he'll be back in the technical area to try and pull off yet another upset in La Liga.
Recently, Moyes and co. beat Barcelona 1-0, whilst back at the start of the season they also beat Atletico Madrid 2-1 and Real Madrid 4-2, all at the Anoeta. So they obviously have a penchant for causing upsets and Moyes will be keen to a victory over Real Madrid to his list of accomplishments despite preparing to present good friend Carlo Ancelotti with a bottle of Rioja from '59, the Italian's birth year. Sociedad have had mixed results all season and currently sit 11th in the Liga BBVA table following a dismal start to the campaign. They beat fellow Basque club Eibar 1-0 in their last outing.
However, luckily for Los Blancos, Sociedad have the worst away form in La Liga as they haven't won away from home once this season. Whilst they haven't had the best of seasons so far, Sociedad always have players that are capable of putting in quality performances so Madrid will need to be wary of Carlos Vela upfornt and former player Sergio Canales in the midfield. David Zurutuza scored a brace in the reverse fixture last year so I'm certain that Madrid will have been told to keep an eye on him. Also, Inigo Martínez whilst rash at times, can be a defensive colossus on a good day so Real's strikers will have to be on top form as always.
Expect Sociedad to try to play very compactly and look to hit on the break as they did against Barcelona, restricting the space through the middle of the pitch and forcing the ball out wide. We've seen in recent games against Atlético that Real Madrid's crossing game isn't up to scratch so Los Blancos will need to have a gameplan to avoid being sucked in to that strategy.
This will be a good chance for Madrid to determine whether they are capable of pulling off victories against decent opposition without Crisitano Ronaldo. Be prepared to see Gareth Bale assume a little more responsibility in CR7's absence and it will also be interesting to see how Carlo Ancelotti decides to approach the game in terms of the personnel used and which formation he chooses.
With Karim Benzema having ended his longest goal drought of the season last weekend against Córdoba, expect him and potentially a fully recovered Jesé Rodríguez to partner Gareth Bale upfront. Modric and Pepe are still out through injury whilst Isco is also a doubt to feature. James Rodríguez recently missed a training session due to a bout of flu so his participation is up in the air too.
Real Madrid have only failed to win once at home so far this season and that loss came in September to Atlético Madrid. Since then it's only been victories at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. Real have scored 24 goals in the last six home games and have conceded only 3 in the process. La Real haven't won at the Bernabéu since 2004, whereas Los Blancos have put four goals past them on each of their last four visits. Madrid also have a good record in winning the last 14 home games against Basque opposition. The last time Madrid failed to score at home in the league was in September 2013 so the signs are positive for the hosts.
Pre-Match Meet-Up: Friday 30 January at 8pm CET, at the Santiago Bernabéu.
Projected Lineup: Casillas; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Illarra, Kroos, Isco, James, Bale, Benzema.
Match Prediction: Real Madrid 4-1 Real Sociedad. This will be a good opportunity in front of a home crowd for Los Blancos to bounce back from a mediocre performance and show they can cope without Ronaldo.