Real Sociedad v Real Madrid – Anoeta Stadium at 19:15 live on Sky Sports 1
It’s been a strangely subdued summer at the Bernebeau with Real Madrid opting only to bring Alvaro Morata back to the club following his spell with Juventus during a quiet transfer window.
The Champions League winners are well stocked in world-class talent and having lifted their 11th European title in May, it could be argued that major surgery wasn’t required.
Los Blancos concluded their La Liga campaign with 12 successive wins to finish just a point off champions Barcelona but there’s a feeling amongst Madridistas that now might be the right time for Real to end a five-year wait for a 33rd La Liga crown.
Madrid have enjoyed four pre-season wins on the spin and lifted the UEFA Super Cup after a 3-2 extra-time victory over Sevilla recently too but Zinedine Zidane’s squad are missing a few key personnel for Sunday’s tricky opening trip to San Sebastian.
Cristiano Ronaldo is sidelined due to injury, with Karim Benzema suffering from an ongoing hip problem. Meanwhile, Luka Modric is suspended meaning Mateo Kovacic, James Rodriguez and Isco will battle it out to replace the Croatian with Morata starting up front.
Despite their absences, Real remain odds-on favourites having won 13 of their most recent 15 battles with Sociedad, losing just once in 18 league duels.
But that doesn’t tell the full story. Towards the back end of 2015/16, Los Blancos required a late winner from Gareth Bale to secure a 1-0 success over Sociedad and the Basques tend to be awkward opponents at Anoeta.
Indeed, the hosts have W5-D1-L2 when welcoming Real or Barcelona to the north of the country since 2012/13 and they’ll fancy their chances of at least grabbing a goal against a Madrid outfit that managed only five clean sheets in games as guests last term.
Under Zidane, Los Blancos W19-D3-L1 in La Liga but they did stutter on their travels at times (W12-D5-L2) and although Sociedad have their own injury concerns, Eusebio Sacristan’s side look well worth supporting at 2.19 with a +0.5 Asian Handicap start on Sunday.
Last season’s top scorer Imanol Agirretxe is sidelined but summer signing Juanmi is an able replacement. Inigo Martinez is expected to start despite carrying a knock and star goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli remains at Anoeta amid interest from across the continent.
Carlos Vela and Asier Illarramendi are classy operators in the middle and final third, negating the loss of Sergio Canales, and the home side should be playing with plenty of confidence having finished 2015/16 with eight victories from their final 17 outings.
La Real only fired blanks in seven of their 27 matches under Eusebio’s watch, won half of their 14 home games – including a memorable match against Barcelona – and climbed into a top-half finish for the third occasion in four years.
This looks a perfect opportunity for Sociedad to put down an early marker and considering Madrid opened their 2015/16 campaign with a 0-0 draw at newly-promoted Sporting Gijon, I’ve every faith the Basques can repeat that feat and claim a positive result.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Real Sociedad +0.5 at 2.19
Prices correct at time of writing.
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