Real Madrid v Real Sociedad – Santiago Bernabeu at 15:00 live on Sky Sports 1
Real Madrid scored 10 goals in a game for the first time in 55 years and nobody cared. Nobody was fooled, either.
Los Blancos broke off for Christmas with a 10-2 victory in their back pocket over Rayo but never before had such a one-sided result been greeted by such an army of shrugged shoulders and puffed cheeks.
There’s been a difficult and uneasy atmosphere around the Bernebeu for quite some time now. Los Blancos fans were even cheering Rayo’s nine men at times during the second-half of that derby contest and the outcome could have been so different.
The minnows started really brightly, and bounced back from conceding early to be 2-1 ahead after 12 minutes. Madrid’s superstars looked bemused and out of ideas. The whistles and jeers reigned down from the stands and Rafa Benitez’s boys were sinking.
Luckily for them, Rayo right-back Tito was deserved sent off, Gareth Bale equalised and then Paco Jemez’s visitors saw midfielder Raul Baena dismissed too. Cristiano Ronaldo converted from a penalty before Real ran riot.
The capital club are yet to click under Benitez despite a smattering of battering’s for Rayo, Betis, Espanyol and Malaga. Sure, he’s been hampered by injuries – fielding the same XI just twice in 23 games – but the 10-time European champions have been humiliated 4-0 by Barcelona, thrown out of the Copa del Rey and look the least likely of Spain’s big-three to take the title.
At this stage of last season, with more or less the same group of players, Carlo Ancelotti was overseeing a 22-game winning streak culminating in a Club World Cup victory. How the mood has changed in Madrid.
However, despite all the negativity, Real remain just two points adrift of Atletico and Barcelona. The simple rule at the Bernebeu is to win and win pretty and although Benitez has failed to sufficiently hit the spot thus far, his side have smashed 22 goals in their last three games on home soil.
Now, more than ever, Rafa needs his side to win, and win with style to satisfy the ever-demanding Madrid crowd. Los Blancos do tend to conquer La Liga’s lesser lights – they’ve bagged 21 wins in 25 home league games, beaten 18 of their last 19 bottom-half visitors and since 2012/13 they’ve W35-D2-L0 against the same opponents, winning 23/37 (62%) by three goals or more.
Real are expected to field Toni Kroos and Sergio Ramos as they return from injury with James Rodriguez, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale all set to start. Having scored at least four goals in each of their last five when Real Sociedad have travelled to the Bernebeau, another big win shouldn’t be dismissed.
The Basque boys have recorded a solitary success in six and been knocked out of the Copa del Rey by Las Palmas in the past month. They sit just two points above the drop zone and lost each of their previous 10 trips to either Real or Barcelona. Although they’ve improved their dismal away record this term, they’ve only picked up one point from a possible 12 at teams above them in the standings.
Real can be backed at 2.05 off a -2.5 Asian Handicap, which holds appeal. I’ll be getting on-board at that price.
Asian Handicap Recommendation: Real Madrid -2.5 at 2.05
Price correct at the time of writing.
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