Zidane will be keen that his side pick up a 10th successive La Liga win against Real Sociedad, but without Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, in addition to Madrid’s shaky form (City draw aside), this Saturday’s match may prove to be a tense one.
Despite the looming Champions League home game against Manchester City on the mind of many Madridistas, Zidane acknowledged the importance of the game at Anoeta, stating, "It's an important game because it's better to go into Wednesday's match with a good result." Still, Zidane also mentioned that other players will take to the pitch, in an effort at giving sufficient playing time to the more-fringe players in the side.
Nevertheless, Gareth Bale will be a crucial part in tomorrow’s match, and Zidane knows it. "If Gareth is well tomorrow he'll be there. We're going to select the team I think is the best to win," he said. With only three league games left and merely trailing FC Barcelona and Atlético de Madrid by one point, Real Madrid’s league chances are very much alive, with a renewed share of optimism among the Bernabéu.
Much to Madridista delight, ex-Madrid midfielder Asier Illarramendi recognized that he wants Madrid to win the league, but obviously not the match at Sociedad (which is of course, no surprise). Real Sociedad, who currently sit 11th in the league after a bad run of form which has seen them only pick up one point in their last three league matches, have realistically little to play for. Yet, Illarramendi said that "It's true that we aren't playing for anything, but it's a very nice game. It's against Madrid, who are playing for a lot and you're not going to be lacking in motivation."
Los Blancos must nevertheless be wary. It was only last season that they lost at the Estadio Anoeta, and it is common knowledge across Spain that this is one of the toughest venues to play at. Additionally, la Real seem to pick up their game whenever they play top sides. It was them that blew the La Liga race wide open after they beat Barcelona 1-0 earlier in April. Since then however, Sociedad’s form has been quite disappointing, including a recent shocking home loss against Getafe.
Real Madrid meanwhile are on their best league form since 2014, and are hitting their stride at the most crucial time. If they are to stand a chance at La Liga silverware, they must win all three of their remaining games, all of which may prove to be a challenge.
The Whites are however quite fortunate to face the Basque side when they are without the services of Agirretxe (injury) and Carlos Vela (suspension). This will accordingly leave Sociedad manager Eusebio with few options in attack. Zidane, on the other hand, is expected to make a few changes in Madrid’s XI, and James or Isco will surely be pushing for a start.
With one eye on Manchester City and a somewhat dull Real Sociedad, expect this match to be a suspicious one, with both sides most likely having good chances to score.
Real Sociedad possible lineup: Rulli; Zaldua, Elustondo, M. González, Yuri; Illarramendi, Reyes, Bergara; Oyarzabal, Jonathas, Zurutuza
Real Madrid possible lineup: Navas; Danilo, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; James, Isco, Modric; Vazquez, Jese, Bale
Managing Madrid staff predictions:
- Om – Real Sociedad 1 – 2 Real Madrid
- Andrejs – Real Sociedad 0 – 2 Real Madrid
- Lucas – Real Sociedad 1 – 3 Real Madrid
- Timm – Real Sociedad 0 – 2 Real Madrid
- Marc – Real Sociedad 1 – 4 Real Madrid