Real Sociedad play host to Villarreal in La Liga on Sunday, looking to continue their incredible rise and to add fuel to fire burning at the Yellow Submarine.
Real Sociedad show no signs of slowing down
Back-to-back defeats to Barcelona and Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey and La Liga, respectively, hardly came as surprising, but they are also not to be taken as indicators of Real Sociedad’s form this season. The Royals are going through a purple patch which saw them win four of their last five La Liga matches and grab the fifth place in the standings, with only one point behind Atletico Madrid. Sky is the limit for the high-flying Eusebio Sacristan’s men who want to use the forthcoming match against Villarreal to open a wider gap in front of the Yellow Submarine in sixth. Buoyed by their 2-1 win at Espanyol last time out, Real Sociedad will be hoping Asier Illarramendi will continue his rich vein of form to help the team go forward. Real Madrid flop is flourishing at his boyhood club and the latest confirmation of such claim was his unstoppable long-distance strike which sealed the 2-1 win at Espanyol last Friday. A year and a half after his return to Real Sociedad, Illarramendi is the most used player in the club, having only missed one match this season.
Willian Jose is suffering from a hamstring strain and will miss the Sunday’s clash, whereas Sacristan will also be without Canale, Mikel Gonzales, Carlos Martinez and Markel Bergara, who are all injured for the occasion. Striker Agirretxe is yet to make a bow in the 2016-17 season.
Can Villarreal bounce back from Europa League disaster?
The Yellow Submarine has been one of the most surprising teams in the first part of the season in La Liga, but their fortunes turned since the turn of the year. With striker Alexandre Pato leaving for China in the January transfer window, things started going awry with Villarreal winning only one game in their last ten outings. Fran Escriba’s men have put their top 6 spot in danger with the most recent slump and will head to Anoeta fearing that another blow could push them down to eighth in the table. Villarreal are facing a difficult challenge as they are looking to bounce back from a disappointing 4-0 defeat in the UEFA Europa League to Roma. Edin Dzeko scored a hat-trick to build on Emerson’s first-half opener and to send Roma one leg in the last-16 round of the competition. With their European adventure as good as dead, Villarreal will need to switch focus back to La Liga as they are in desperate need of points. With the spirits on the low and team atmosphere ruined, there is little to suggest that Villarreal could go on to recover against in-form rivals.
Roberto Soldado is thought to be available after recovering from his injury and could get involved in the game, which can’t be said for Daniele Bonera and suspended Roberto Soriano. Rukavina and Alvaro Gonzales could be in line for the starting berths at the expense of Mario and Musacchio, whereas Bakambu could take Adrian’s place in the team.
Real Sociedad and Villarreal head into the Sunday’s match in contrasting forms and we see great value in supporting the home side to grab three points in what would be a highly important win for Sacristan’s men. Villarreal are down on their knees and Real Sociedad only need to knock them off.
Top pick: Home win 1.95 (19/20) @Bet365
Alternative pick 1: HT/FT Home win 3.20 (11/5) @Coral
Atlernative pick 2: Real Sociedad to win both halves 6.00 (5/1) @PaddyPower