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Real Madrid vs Real Sociedad: Match Preview

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This year has been one to forget for Real Madrid, but staff, players and fans will hope a convincing win against Real Sociedad will tee things up for a much-improved 2016.

Jeff Holmes/Getty Images

If confidence wasn't already sky-high from the 10-2 demolition of Rayo Vallecano last time out, Real Madrid have the chance to finish a disappointing year with a bang as Real Sociedad visit the Santiago Bernabéu on Wednesday.

Los Blancos have endured plenty of problems in 2015. Not only did Carlo Ancelotti's time at the helm unravel, but Madrid had to watch on as Barcelona won the treble before going on to sweep up five trophies as Rafa Benítez came under plenty of scrutiny as the Italian's successor.

Despite the recent problems, notably a 4-0 home defeat by Barcelona and an embarrassing Copa del Rey exit owing to fielding an ineligible player, Madrid find themselves just two points off La Liga's summit, albeit having played a game more than the Catalans, and potentially finishing the year top of the pile.

That is unlikely to happen given Barcelona's home match against Real Betis and Atleti's trip to Rayo Vallecano respectively, but Benítez and his men can at least finish the year with a flourish with another goal glut against the side from the Basque Country.

The Spaniard has been under mounting pressure of late but his players have at least dispelled some of the rumours that they will not play under him. If an 8-0 thumping of Malmo wasn't enough, the 10-2 success against Rayo certainly was, in a match where some local press billed the match as ‘do or die'. The critics, albeit in part, were answered.

On the face of it that pressure on the coach, and indeed president Florentino Pérez, should have subsided. Instead, Benítez used his press conference ahead of the clash with La Real to question the motives of some. "What is clear is that there is a campaign against Florentino Pérez, against Real Madrid and against the manager," said Benítez.

There is still a long way to go before Benítez can get the press and some Madridistas off his back. As impressive as the double-figure triumph against the side from Vallecas may have been, it was against nine men of a team noted for playing expansive football - and not keeping much of a defence - against Spain's big guns.

A home clash against the side from San Sebastián will offer the chance to rubber stamp Benítez's claim that his side play attractive, attacking football but more than a much-wanted high-scoring three points it will offer the chance to ensure the team are playing just as the coach wants them to ahead of the bigger trip to face Valencia at the weekend. Last season's trip to Mestalla brought the end of the record-breaking winning run and the unravelling of Ancelotti's time as coach.

Los Blancos already showed their togetherness against Paco Jemez's side last time out and after the ‘BBC' of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo enjoyed their time in front of goal, Benítez is keen for the team to show their spirit again against the Basque outfit. "I can guarantee that the relationship with the squad is infinitely better than what is seen on television," said the coach.

One instruction Benítez may give out to his squad is not to go lightly on former Madrid man Esteban Granero. The midfielder will line-up alongside Asier Illarramendi to make it a two-pronged former Blancos midfield that goes up against Luka Modric and company and he will line-up after bigging up the possible return of Jose Mourinho to the Bernabéu.

"Mourinho and Madrid worked together once," he said in an interview with Marca, published today. "I'm convinced that they'll work together again and that it'll be good for everyone involved."

Indeed, La Real could have three former Blancos lining up on Wednesday afternoon with Sergio Canales completing the trio. The side from Anoeta are not expecting to take anything from the match at the Bernabéu but their fans can rest assured the three aforementioned stars will be at the top of their game back on their former patch.

This year has been one to forget for Real Madrid, but the staff, players and fans will hope a big win to end 2015 will set them up for a better year ahead.

Projected XI Real Madrid: Navas, Danilo, Marcelo, Pepe, Varane, Casemiro, James, Modric, Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo.

Projected XI Real Sociedad: Rulli, Yurí, Martínez, Reyes, Elustondo, Illarramendi, Granero, Canales, Prieto, Vela, Agirretxe.