Although Real Madrid were held to a 0-0 draw with Real Sociedad on Sunday night, the performance was good and a little bit more luck could have made this a victory. But, two points were dropped and that means there’s a lot to discuss. Here, then, come three pre-match questions we had and three post-match questions we have.
1. How much would injuries play a part?
This was a huge game, with the second-placed team hosting the third-placed team, but sadly both sides came into it with a lot of injuries. Real Madrid were missing five players through injury, four of them regular starters, and Real Sociedad were missing nine from their injury woes, including two starters. So, would that affect the quality of the game? It probably did a little. It also just made for some odd situations. For example, Real Madrid started with a centre-back and a central midfielder in their two full-back spots. Real Sociedad, meanwhile, finished the game with a central midfielder at centre-back and a centre-back at right-back.
2. Would Real Sociedad score first again?
Curiously, in their previous five visits to take on Real Madrid, it was Real Sociedad who scored the first goal of the game. The Basque side turned that into two victories and one draw, while there were two Real Madrid comeback wins too, including last year’s 4-1. But, of course, it would be easiest for Real Madrid if they could just avoid conceding first to La Real once again. And they did, finally keeping a clean sheet against the team from the north. But, the lack of a goal at the other end made this, ultimately, a frustrating night for Carlo Ancelotti’s men.
3. How would Illarramendi do on his return to the Bernabéu?
Any Real Madrid fans who don’t watch much Real Sociedad might assume that Asier Illarramendi is a key component of Imanol Alguacil’s side, giving that he was starting here and wearing the captain’s armband as he did so. But, that’s not the case. Illarra had only played 334 total minutes this LaLiga season before tonight, and was only filling in in the double pivot because of the injury to Mikel Merino. In other words, he was a potential weakness for Real Sociedad. But, Illarramendi was very good in this game, winning the ball back and providing an experienced outlet as Real Sociedad looked to play out from the back. He certainly wasn’t perfect, but not the weakness Real Madrid might have thought he could be.
1. Camavinga at left-back again?
As mentioned above, there were many players having to perform out of position in this game and Eduardo Camavinga was one of them. That’s because, for this game, all of Real Madrid’s full-backs not named Álvaro Odriozola were out injured. So, Carlo Ancelotti had a problem. With Odriozola not trusted enough to take on his former club, this meant Nacho would be deployed at right-back and Camavinga at left-back. He’d already filled in there on Thursday when Mendy went off injured and did so again, and he was brilliant. He’s such a good player that he can perform anywhere and he even paid tribute to Mendy by embarking on one of the Frenchman’s trademark forwards forward into the box, early in the second half. For Camavinga’s sake, you have to hope he doesn’t have to play out of position so often, and surely he understands that he only had to do left-back duty tonight because of an extraordinary injury crisis in the full-back position.
2. What is Kubo’s contractual situation? Can Real Madrid ever get him back?
Takefusa Kubo was very good in this game. His touch was pristine throughout and he was the driving force behind multiple Real Sociedad counter attacks. He really has settled in well at Real Sociedad, one of the several other Spanish clubs he left Real Madrid for. After this display, many Madridistas will be wondering if the capital city club have the possibility or bringing Kubo back some day in the future. His contractual situation is such that Real Sociedad do own his rights, but Real Madrid are entitled to 50 percent of the added value of any transfer and Real Madrid also have the chance to match any offers that come in for the Japanese. So, in other words, there’s not a traditional buy-back clause.
3. Are Real Sociedad in the title race?
Dropping points is frustrating for Real Madrid, but fans should keep in mind that this is a very good Real Sociedad team and that they’re third in the table for a reason. With this result, they remain just three points behind Real Madrid in the table, albeit with one extra game played. So, shouldn’t we start talking about them as title contenders? Many mentioned Sevilla in that breath when they were a similar distance from the top in the past few years, so why not Real Sociedad? Could they truly do it?