Match Report / Real Sociedad 2 – 1 Real Betis

Matchday 22 – Real Sociedad 2-1 Real Betis – Match Report

Saturday 30th January 2016

15,877 Spectators

A small crowd of under 16,000 turned up to watch this vital match at Anoeta.  The paying spectators are really voting with their feet in recent times as disenchantment grows with the continued poor performance of the home team.  The numbers will have been negatively affected by the fact that there will have been few travelling fans making the long journey from Seville and the lateness of the kick off time.  However, the downward trend is a problem for Real Sociedad who really need strong home support to help them survive this difficult season.

Real Sociedad recorded only their second win in nine games to climb above Real Betis, rising to 13th place in the table.  Two headed goals in the opening 33 minutes put La Reala in control with Betis’ solitary response coming early in the second half from their top scorer Ruben Castro.

The home team took an 18th-minute lead when Hector’s fine cross was converted by the head of Xabi Prieto, for his third goal of the season.  The visitors fell further behind after 33 minutes when Pardo delivered a perfect free-kick for Inigo to head home his first goal this term.  It was great to score a goal from a set play and it is only fair to congratulate Ruben Pardo who also managed a similar delivery of a dead ball for our opening goal against Rayo last month.  More please Ruben!!

The actual free kick was won by Mikel Oyarzabal who’s direct play was unsettling for the Betis defence.  He was drawing fouls and causing consternation amongst the visitors defenders.  He is an exciting prospect and I believe deserves an extended run in the starting team.

The 2-0 half time score was a true reflection of the game as Betis had failed to have a single attempt on goal in the first period.  After their strong showing last week when they surprisingly drew 1-1 with Real Madrid, their poor performance was unexpected.

Real Sociedad Head Coach Eusebio substituted Elustondo at half time and introduced Joseba Zaldua.  This may have been because he wanted to rest Elustondo and give some minutes to Zaldua after his torrid introduction back into the starting team last week.  With 45 minutes to go the game was looking secure and it was a reasonable tactic to employ.

Betis made their own changes and introduced Joaquin and van Wolfswinkel at half time in an attempt to turn the game around.  The change worked as the dynamics of the contest began to swing back in their favour. They reduced the deficit in the 51st minute when following a swift counterattack Van Wolfswinkel delivered a perfect low cross into Castro’s path for him score a well crafted goal.

It was a clinical finish following a fast and simple counterattack.  Left back Hector had been overly ambitious and was caught upfield, and the visitors took full advantage of the space he had left.  We have been guilty of conceding this type of goal on numerous occasions in the last 18 months and it shows a naivety in the Real Sociedad midfield who fail to cover their full backs adequately when they attack.

As a result of thus goal Eusebio rather disappointingly replaced Oyarzabal with Markel in the 56th minute. The decision to introduce Markel appeared to be an attempt to toughen up the midfield in answer to the Betis goal.  Tactically it was probably correct to bring Markel into the game but I would have preferred to see either Vela or Prieto sacrificed as Oyarzabal was still causing Betis problems.  Bruma came on for Pardo on 74 minutes but had little impact.

Dutchman Van Wolfswinkel continued to cause problems for the home defence and went close twice to an equaliser. Betis were robbed of a penalty when Illarramendi fouled Ceballos with 18 minutes left.  The game continued with Betis pushing forward for an equaliser but the home defence held strong and claimed all 3 points for a much needed win.

Overall La Reala just about deserved the points mainly because of their strong first half performance.  They were hugely helped by the fact that Betis were really terrible during the first period, showing no ambition or flair.  After making substitutions at half time Betis were much improved during the second period and could easily snatched a point.  The referee had a poor game, but for once most of his contentious decisions favoured Real Sociedad, a welcome change from recent games!!

I thought that both Vela and especially Jonathas were totally ineffective in this game, with the Brazilian looking completely lost.  His confidence seems to have totally evaporated and his first touch is abysmal.  The main striker in any team needs to be able to hold the ball up, especially with his back to goal,  but without the ability to control the ball quickly it becomes impossible to bring others into play.  Jonathas seems incapable of achieving this which surely is a basic requirement of a striker.  He is as poor technically as Finnbogason and Seferovic, which is beginning to appear to be the standard that Loren seeks when he is scouting for a new striker!!

The match statistics showed: Possession 50/50%, we managed 7shots of which 4 were on target.  We won 3 corners and received 1 yellow card: Pardo 45 minutes.

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