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Preview: Sturm Graz vs. Real Sociedad - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's Europa League clash between Sturm Graz and Real Sociedad, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Real Sociedad square off against Sturm Graz on Thursday night still looking for their first win in this season's Europa League group stages.

However, Sociedad could move joint-top of Group B if they manage to overcome their Austrian hosts, who are yet to get a point on the board.


Match preview

Real Sociedad coach Imanol Alguacil on September 16, 2021© Reuters

At a time when they sit at the top of La Liga, Real Sociedad boss Imanol Alguacil may have been content with placing full attention on trying to maintain that position.

However, this is a Sociedad squad which appears capable of performing on all fronts, their current unbeaten streak having reached 10 games in all competitions.

More impressively, star man Alexander Isak has contributed just one strike this season, forcing some of his teammates to up their performance levels in various areas of the pitch.

While there will be a tinge of disappointment over only starting life in Group B with successive draws, victory on Thursday will likely be enough to move into the top two.

Sociedad's last seven goals have been scored in the second half, the most recent coming in the final minute against Mallorca to secure a 1-0 success.

Sturm Graz will have few complaints with their opening two performances, the Austrian side pushing Monaco all the way on matchday one before a late flurry from PSV proved to be the difference last time out.

Although Christian Ilzer's side are not quite yet at the point of no return, they realistically need to claim at least a point on Thursday to retain any interest in this competition.

Looking more positively at the scenario in front of them, Sturm Graz will move into third spot with victory at the Merkur Arena.

They returned from the international break with a 1-0 victory over Ried, a result which has kept them within eight points of runaway Bundesliga leaders Red Bull Salzburg.

Sturm Graz Europa League form:
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • L

Sturm Graz form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • W

Real Sociedad Europa League form:
  • D
  • D

Real Sociedad form (all competitions):
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • D
  • W



Team News

Mikel Oyarzabal in action for Real Sociedad in April 2021© Reuters

With Alguacil making minimal changes for the first two games, expect to see many of the Sociedad players which started against Mallorca.

Martin Zubimendi is an option in midfield in Mikel Merino is handed a rest, while Andoni Gorosabel could come back into the team at right-back.

However, key man Mikel Oyarzabal faces a spell on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.

Sturm Graz may be forced into a change with Stefan Hierlander suffering an injury during the closing stages of the win over Ried.

If the captain is unavailable, Ivan Ljubic could be handed an opportunity in what may be the only alteration to the starting XI.

Sturm Graz possible starting lineup:
Siebenhandl; Gazibegovic, Affengruber, Wuthrich, Dante; Ljubic, Stankovic, Prass, Niangbo; Jantscher, Yeboah

Real Sociedad possible starting lineup:
Remiro; Gorosabel, Elustondo, Le Normand, Munoz; Guevara, Zubimendi; Januzaj, Navarro, Portu; Isak


SM words green background

We say: Sturm Graz 0-2 Real Sociedad

With home advantage in their favour, Sturm Graz will likely throw a bit more caution to the wind during this contest. However, Sociedad's experience should prove key here, the visitors potentially running out victors with a clean sheet.



Top 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:curl


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How you voted: Sturm Graz vs Real Sociedad

Sturm Graz
12.2%
Draw
9.3%
Real Sociedad
78.5%
172
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Alexander Isak pictured in Sweden training in May 2021
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Real Madrid14103134151933
2Atletico MadridAtletico1485126141229
3Real Sociedad158521911829
4Sevilla1484224111328
5Real Betis158342518727
6Rayo Vallecano157352316724
7Barcelona146532316723
8Athletic Bilbao144821310320
9Espanyol155551514120
10Osasuna155551519-420
11Valencia154742221119
12Villarreal143741616016
13Celta Vigo154471619-316
14Mallorca153751422-816
15AlavesAlaves144281119-814
16Granada142661422-812
17ElcheElche152671221-912
18CadizCadiz152671327-1412
19Getafe152491019-910
20Levante150781328-157

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