MX23RW : Wednesday, May 22 04:37:28| >> :600:96617364:96617364:
Apr 30, 2016 at 3pm UK at ​Estadio Anoeta
Attendance: 26,426
Real Sociedad
Real Madrid
FT(HT: 0-0)
Bale (80')

Preview: Real Sociedad vs. Real Madrid

Sports Mole previews Saturday's La Liga clash between Real Sociedad and Real Madrid at the Anoeta.

Real Madrid will continue their La Liga title challenge with a trip to Real Sociedad on Saturday afternoon.

Los Blancos will enter the match looking for a 10th straight league victory and with the knowledge that three points would temporarily move them above Barcelona and Atletico Madrid to the top of the table.


Real Sociedad players celebrate taking the advantage during the La Liga game between Real Sociedad and Barcelona on April 9, 2016© AFP

As a consequence of a 0-0 draw at Villarreal last weekend, Sociedad ensured that they would play La Liga football next season regardless of what happens in their final three matches. They have little to play for except for pride on Saturday afternoon, but they will be keen to claim another scalp in the top flight.

Indeed, Sociedad blew the title race wide open when they beat Barcelona 1-0 earlier this month, but they have not won since then - losing to both Eibar and Getafe, in addition to drawing with Villarreal last time out. In truth, it has been a disappointing campaign for the Basque club, who currently sit down in 11th spot on 42 points.

Eusebio Sacristan's side are now 10 points clear of the bottom three, however, and actually just two points off eighth-placed Valencia. There will be no European football next season, but a top-half finish would represent a fair campaign when considering their struggles under David Moyes.

Sociedad have back-to-back home games against Real Madrid and Rayo Vallecano to come, before finishing their season away to Valencia on May 15. Overall, their home form has been quite solid this term, but they have lost two of their last three at the Anoeta - including a disappointing defeat against struggling Getafe on April 21.

The Basque outfit secured Champions League football after finishing fourth in the 2012-13 campaign and then managed seventh in 2013-14 to show their credentials as a European challenger in La Liga. They were 12th last season, however, and are heading for another bottom-half finish this time around.

Recent form: WLLLWL

Real Madrid

Karim Benzema celebrates scoring with Cristiano Ronaldo during the La Liga game between Real Madrid and Villarreal on April 20, 2016© AFP

Victory for Real Madrid at the Anoeta would move them to the top of the table, but in all likelihood, Zinedine Zidane's team will be back in third by the end of play on Saturday night.

Nine straight league wins have moved Los Blancos back into title contention, but they are one point behind both Atletico and Barcelona and will need the top two to slip up in order to bring the trophy to the Bernabeu this season.

Real Madrid's title challenge looked to be over when they lost 1-0 at home to Atletico at the end of February, but they have taken maximum points from their nine games since then - including a 3-2 win at Rayo Vallecano last weekend, when they had to come from two goals behind in the capital.

The capital giants are actually on their best run of league form since 2014 and away from home, have not lost any of their last nine league matches - recording six wins in the process. Unless Barcelona and Atletico both suffer defeats, Real Madrid will need to win their final three league matches to stand a chance of winning the title.

Next weekend, they will welcome Valencia, before travelling to Deportivo La Coruna on the final weekend of the season. It does appear that the Whites will ultimately fall short, but there have been signs of encouragement under Zidane, who took the reins from Rafael Benitez earlier this season.

As well as the league, Los Blancos have a Champions League semi-final to think about. On Tuesday, they drew 0-0 at Manchester City in the first leg and will welcome the Premier League side for the return match next week. European football must be put to one side this weekend, however, as Real Madrid look to keep their league challenge on track.

Recent form: WWWWWW
Recent form (all competitions): WWWWWD

Team News

Karim Benzema of Real Madrid celebrates with Cristiano Ronaldo after scoring Real's opening goal during the UEFA Champions League Group A match between Real Madrid and Shakhtar Donetsk at estadio Santiago Bernabeu on September 15, 2015© Getty Images

Sociedad will be without the services of Carlos Martinez and Imanol Agirretxe through injury, while Carlos Vela will miss the clash through suspension, leaving Eusebio short of options in the final third.

Bruma is pushing for a spot in a wide position, but Mikel Oyarzabal is expected to keep his position in the team.

As for Real Madrid, Zidane is not expected to take a chance on Cristiano Ronaldo, who missed Tuesday's Champions League semi-final first leg against Man City with a thigh problem.

The Portuguese is expected to return for the second leg at the Bernabeu next week, but it is unlikely that he will play this weekend. Karim Benzema, meanwhile, will miss out with a hamstring injury which he picked up in the European fixture.

Jese Rodriguez and Lucas Vazquez are both pushing for starts in the final third, while James Rodriguez will be hoping to feature after failing to come off the bench against Man City at the Etihad.

Further back, Raphael Varane is expected to be introduced ahead of Pepe, who could be rested.

Sociedad possible starting lineup:
Rulli; Zaldua, Elustondo, I.Martinez, Yuri; Illarramendi, Reyes, Bergara; Mikel, Bruma, Zurutuza

Real Madrid possible starting lineup:
Navas; Danilo, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Kroos, Casemiro, Modric; Vazquez, Jese, Bale

Head To Head

Sociedad have won just one of their last 17 league games against Real Madrid - losing 13 times in the process. That said, that sole success (4-2) came when the two teams met at the Anoeta towards the start of last season.

Since then, Real Madrid have beaten Sociedad 4-1 and 3-1 at the Bernabeu and also hit nine goals against the Basque outfit across their two league games in the 2013-14 campaign.

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We say: Sociedad 1-2 Real Madrid

Real Madrid will be without a couple of key players for their trip to the Anoeta, but Sociedad are also struggling with injury and have little to play for in the final weeks of the season. Despite having one eye on their Champions League semi-final second leg against Man City, Zidane's side should have enough to triumph in this one.

Who will win Saturday's La Liga clash at the Anoeta?

Real Sociedad
Real Madrid
Real Sociedad
Real Madrid
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Karim Benzema of Real Madrid CF celebrates after scoring during the La Liga match between Athletic Club Bilbao and Real Madrid CF at San Mames Stadium on September 23, 2015
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