MX23RW : Tuesday, June 22 16:47:29| >> :600:168037:168037:
Nov 5, 2020 at 5.55pm UK at Estadio Anoeta
Real SociedadReal Sociedad
1-0
AZAZ
Portu (58')
Silva (45+1')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Gudmundsson (7'), Druijf (72'), Svensson (90+2')

Preview: Real Sociedad vs. AZ Alkmaar - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's Europa League clash between Real Sociedad and AZ, including team news and predicted lineups.

Real Sociedad will be looking to continue their strong run of form when they play host to Eredivisie giants AZ Alkmaar on Thursday in the Europa League.

Similarly, the visitors are hoping to make it three wins out of three in Group F following victories over Napoli and Rijeka so far.


Match preview

Real Sociedad's Mikel Oyarzabal celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on December 14, 2019© Reuters

Sociedad's unforeseen dominance in La Liga has seen the Europa League contenders storm to the top of the rankings after eight matches in the 2020-21 campaign, with Imanol Alguacil's men notching up 18 goals and conceding just four along the way.

The Whites and Blues boast an impressive six victories and two losses from their last eight matches across all competitions, with one of those defeats coming at the hands of Valencia in the league, while Napoli also proved too strong for the La Liga pace-setters last week.

Alguacil's men have not seen their domestic superiority translate into convincing results on the international stage, though, with Jon Bautista's injury-time winner seeing Sociedad just about manage to overcome Croatian outfit Rijeka 1-0 before a Matteo Politano winner saw Napoli defeat Sociedad by the same scoreline on matchday two.

However, Alguacil's men made amends at the weekend as they won their fourth game on the bounce in the Spanish top flight with a comfortable 4-1 triumph against Celta Vigo, with David Silva and Mikel Oyarzabal netting before Willian Jose bagged a second-half brace for Sociedad.

The Spanish side will no doubt hope to carry that momentum forward as they look to return to winning ways in the Europa League, but AZ are sure to have something to say about that given their results in Europe.

AZ Alkmaar manager Arne Slot pictured on October 2, 2019© Reuters

Whilst AZ are yet to taste defeat since losing to Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League qualifying rounds, the Eredivisie outfit only just managed to pick up their first top-flight victory of the season following five draws from their opening five.

Arne Slot's men finally managed to end their seemingly never-ending run of stalemates with a dominant victory over RKC Waalwijk at the weekend, with Albert Gudmundsson bagging a brace after Calvin Stengs broke the deadlock within the opening five minutes.

Despite struggling to pick up all three points in most of their league matches, AZ have had no such trouble internationally as they look to maintain their 100% record in the Europa League, with Slot's side recording a hard-fought win at Napoli before easily overcoming Rijeka on matchday two.

Gudmundsson netted twice in that game as well, with the young Icelandic key to AZ's hopes of picking up yet another victory in Europe when they travel to the Anoeta Stadium this week, and another three points here would put the Eredivisie outfit firmly in control of Group F as they bid to make the knockout stages for the second year running.

Real Sociedad Europa League form: WL
Real Sociedad form (all competitions): WWWWLW

AZ Europa League form: WW
AZ form (all competitions): DDWDWW


Team News

Real Sociedad midfielder David Silva in action against Real Madrid in La Liga on September 20, 2020© Reuters

Sociedad captain Asier Illarramendi is struggling with a hip problem and is yet to return to team training, ruling him out of Thursday's encounter.

Defender Aritz Elustondo suffered a contracture before Sociedad's bout with Napoli and will also be forced to miss the trip to AZ, while Igor Zubeldia will also have to wait a little while longer to make his return to action.

Wholesale changes are unlikely for the hosts given their recent results, with last weekend's goalscorers Silva and Oyarzabal set to keep their places, but Portu and Alexander Isak are options for change amid a gruelling fixture schedule.

On the other hand, the visitors have very few injury concerns to manage, with Timo Letschert and Myron Boadu recovering from coronavirus to make substitute appearances against Waalwijk.

However, Jordy Clasie was absent again at the weekend and remains a doubt for this one, while former Aston Villa man Ron Vlaar's involvement is also uncertain.

Real Sociedad possible starting lineup:
Remiro; Gorosabel, Le Normand, Sagnan, Monreal; Merino, Zubimendi, Silva; Portu, Isak, Oyarzabal

AZ possible starting lineup:
Bizot; Svensson, Letschert, Chatzidiakos, Wijndal; Koopmeiners, Midtsjo, De Wit; Stengs, Gudmundsson, Karlsson


SM words green background

We say: Real Sociedad 2-1 AZ

AZ have become renowned for their one-pointers in the Dutch top flight this season, but Slot's men will undoubtedly have their eyes on another three when they make the journey to Spain this week. However, Sociedad have slayed most who have stood before them so far and will be looking to stamp their authority on Group F with a win here, so we are backing the hosts to just edge this one.


Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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AZ Alkmaar manager Arne Slot pictured on October 2, 2019
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Todays Game Header Right
Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
CAtletico MadridAtletico38268467254286
2Real Madrid38259467283984
3Barcelona38247785384779
4Sevilla38245953332077
5Real Sociedad3817111059382162
6Real Betis381710115050061
7Villarreal3815131060441658
8Celta Vigo381411135557-253
9Granada38137184765-1846
10Athletic Bilbao381113144642446
11Osasuna381111163748-1144
12CadizCadiz381111163658-2244
13Valencia381013155053-343
14Levante38914154657-1141
15Getafe38911182843-1538
16AlavesAlaves38911183657-2138
17ElcheElche38812183455-2136
RHuesca38713183453-1934
RReal Valladolid38516173457-2331
REibarEibar38612202952-2330

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