modelli woolrich donna Zinedine Zidane under a little pressure for ‘must
The FC crew preview Real Madrid’s clash with Real Sociedad and discuss the booing Gareth Bale has endured from Madrid fans.
Real Madrid travel to Anoeta for a match on Sunday night to take on an ominously in form Real Sociedad in the absence of several key players and with the minimum requirement to avoid defeat after dropping points their past two Liga outings.
Although he would not admit as much, this is a game Zinedine Zidane would dearly love to play a week later than the fixture computer has dictated. When Real Betis visit the Bernabeu next Wednesday, the Real boss will have Cristiano Ronaldo available for domestic duty after his lengthy ban and Marcelo back from his briefer disciplinary layoff.
In San Sebastian, Zidane faces the first serious test of the fledgling Liga season, and he already has found his side wanting in two fixtures that were more winnable, at least on paper, than this assignment. But after consecutive home draws against Valencia and Levante representing the first time this century that Madrid have failed to win at least one of their opening two games in the Bernabeu there is pressure on the Frenchman.
Real already are four points off the early pace in La Liga, a pace that is being set by the eternal foe Barcelona and Eusebio’s free flowing Sociedad. That gap will in all likelihood be seven points by the time Real take to the Anoeta turf, with Barcelona away at Getafe a day earlier.
No side have scored more in the opening three games than Sociedad, and two players who will be more than familiar to Sunday’s visitors have been in excellent form. Diego Llorente, who was sold in the summer, has scored three already from defence in all competitions and is worth a goal every 38 minutes a statistic even Ronaldo would raise an eyebrow at. Asier Illarramendi has hammered in two from midfield and is in the sort of form that persuaded Real to buy him in the first place. Neither will be lacking that little extra bit of motivation, and elder statesman Xabi Prieto is in a state of grace with four assists and a goal to his name.
Isco will likely return to Real’s starting XI for a must not lose match against in form Real Sociedad.
Sociedad knocked four past Depor at Riazor last weekend and hit four more in the Europa League against an admittedly compliant Rosenborg. Real only managed three against a limited Apoel side in the Champions League, and Ronaldo accounted for two of those, one from the spot. Eusebio’s side have not been seeing off middling Liga opposition during their run, either: Celta and Villarreal are the other sides to have been on the receiving end of La Real’s blueprint and both conceded three times.
In encouraging news for the visitors, Sociedad have been far from watertight at the back: No side in the current top 10 have conceded more. The issue facing Zidane is where Real’s goals are going to come from. Shorn of two of his most potent attacking outlets Marcelo has created more chances in the league than any of his teammates he also will be without Karim Benzema, the glue that holds the front line together and so often the provider for his colleagues,
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Gareth Bale probably will be called on to lead the line, as he did against Levante after Benzema limped off, with the Welshman missing several clear chances in his role as the spearhead of a 4 2 3 1.
It might fall to Marco Asensio to put in another game changing performance after the in form midfielder’s double saved the day against Valencia. But whatever formation and personnel the Real boss opts for, he won’t make the same mistake he did against Levante, and he will select his strongest available side.
That should equate to a recall for Isco, who was a second half substitute against The Frogs, and a return to a 4 3 3, with Asensio and his Spain international teammate flanking Bale. Luka Modric and Casemiro will return to the midfield after sitting out the Levante game, and the battle between the Brazilian and the player who once occupied his place, Illarramendi, will be a fascinating one.
While it is far too early for alarm bells to be ringing, a crisis is never very far away at the Bernabeu. Real have had no problem creating chances and have racked up 56 shots on goal in three Liga fixtures, with 24 of those on target. What has been lacking, as Zidane alluded to before the Apoel game, is a No. 9 in the absence of Benzema. Meanwhile, Mariano and Alvaro Morata have been scoring prolifically for Lyon and Chelsea, respectively.
Sunday’s game is not a must win at this stage of the season, but it can be firmly filed under must not lose if Real’s transfer policy and the side’s inability to cope without Ronaldo are not to become an uncomfortable line of questioning for Zidane.