Sporting Gijón 5-1 Real Sociedad / Match Report

Matchday 21 – Sporting Gijon 5-1 Real Sociedad – Match Report

Friday 22nd January 2016

23,320 Spectators

An unmitigated disaster unfolded for Real Sociedad as they delivered a gutless and miserable performance against Sporting Gijon. Paraguayan teenager, Antonio Sanabria, on loan from Roma, scored a hat-trick as Sporting climbed out of the La Liga relegation zone after defeating visitors Real Sociedad 5-1.

They opened the scoring after just 15 seconds when Carmona scored his first goal of the season.  Sociedad keeper Gero Rulli spilt a low cross to gift Carmona the ball, which he gratefully swept home. Zaldua allowed the cross to come in completely unchallenged and this combined with the Rulli error caused the goal.

Dani Ndi added a second eight minutes later when he made the most of more abysmal defending by Zaldua and Elustondo to head in from close range for his first goal in La Liga.  So after only 9 minutes played we were already 2-0 down, with both goals self inflicted disasters.

La Reala, as is often the case, generally created little danger for the home defence in the first half rarely troubling the Sporting keeper.  However, Carlos Vela reduced the deficit to 2-1 in the 37th minute.  Aritz Elustondo collided with the post after heading Vela’s free-kick straight at the keeper, but Gijon failed to clear the ball which was delivered back into the area for Vela to fire into the net.  Elustondo injured his back during this move but after treatment he returned to the pitch.  His mobility seemed restricted and within minutes he was at fault as the home side restored their two-goal lead just before half time when Sanabria waltzed around Rulli to slot home.

It was a very poor time to concede a goal for the visitors and the goal gave confidence to the home team who were sensing victory. Eusebio immediately replaced the injured Elustondo with Mikel and the half time whistle blew. Maybe he should not have left Elustondo on the pitch when he was obviously injured. The close proximity of half time encouraged him to take a risk to allow him to properly assess the extent of the injury during the half time break.  This decision probably cost us the match as there was no way Sporting were going to let a 2 goal lead slip in the final 45 minutes.

The second period began with Real substituting the ineffective Bruma with Oyarzabal but before he could make an impact Sporting added a fourth goal on 52 minutes with Rulli again at fault. He pushed a shot into the path of Sanabria who was left with a simple tap-in.  It was a second schoolboy error from the Argentinean keeper who is beginning to lose consistency which is so vital for any goalkeeper.

Sanabria completed his hat-trick with nine minutes to go when he easily cut inside Mikel Gonzalez to shoot home from the edge of the area after a perfect pass from substitute Halilovic.  Mikel was left for dead by the youngster which highlighted the defender’s complete lack of pace and mobility.

In general terms Real Sociedad’s attacking play showed little imagination, no width and no pace.  We dominated possession, achieving 58%, but only managed 3 shots on target, won 2 corners and were caught offside on only one occasion.  These statistics show that we have become a static team, trapped on the half way line, passing to each other until we make a mistake and lose the ball.

This is ideally set up for an opposing team to play in a counterattacking and pressing manner against us.  It is an unimaginative style, boring to watch and easy to play against.  The lack of a playmaker and absence of width in our team means we are trapped into playing in this fashion which restricts any attacking possibilities as we become increasingly predictable.  Continuing to play in this manner will condemn us to the wrong end of the La Liga table.   The only way this team will go to Europe is if the players book a group holiday!

After the match Real Sociedad captain Xabi Prieto said “This was a difficult night. We didn’t show the attitude we needed to. It hurts to lose this way.”  No shit!!

In my opinion the players should reimburse all the money spent by travelling Real fans who wasted their time and wages travelling to Gijon.  The performance of the players showed a complete lack of commitment, intensity or professionalism and this should warrant such a gesture as a way for the players to offer a tangible apology.

Real were unprepared, undisciplined and completely disorganised which is totally unacceptable and must not reoccur.  Head Coach Eusebio Sacristan must also accept responsibility for his part in this fiasco, although I accept he can only select the players he has inherited.  Our team has no leader on the pitch, no one who will inspire their team mates, motivate them or lead by example.  Iñigo should be made captain as Prieto just does not fulfill the role properly.

The performances last night of Zaldua and Rulli were truly awful, Jonathas and Bruma were not much better.  Rulli made at least two very basic errors which were severely punished by Sporting.  I have serious misgivings about the standard of his kicking, especially of a moving ball, although this was not a feature during this match.   I am uncertain whether Xabi Prieto actually played last night as he made a zero contribution to the match.

Joseba Zaldua has been injured for many months but started this match in his normal right back position.  He was selected due to the unavailability through injury of Carlos Martinez but he had a nightmare of a game.  Maybe he was not ready to return to first team action and he should not have been selected to start. He appeared completely out of touch, rarely taking up the correct defensive position during passages of open play, especially during the opening 15 minutes.  If he was really not ready to start because of his lengthy absence it would appear to have been simple enough to swap Elustondo to the right back position and select any of Diego Reyes, Mikel Gonzales or Jon Ansotegi to fill the right hand central defensive berth.

This is the exact position that all of these 3 players actually normally play!!  But Eusebio choose not to select any of them.  Why?

Yet they were all selected to be on the bench, a bench that was completely unbalanced, offering us no real options should we need to chase the match.  The bench contained four defenders, a goalkeeper, one midfield player and one attacking midfield player.  What were we ever going to do if we fell behind early in the match, which is exactly what happened.  This possibility was just not catered for and even if we had selected an inexperienced young player on the bench at least this would have offered us some diversity and the ability to shake things up should the need arise.

This leads me to the conclusion that Eusebio does not trust Reyes, Mikel or Ansotegi, which is a terrible indictment of the lack of quality in the squad.  This is not a squad picked by Eusebio, he is working with what he inherited from David Moyes.  Now as much as Moyes was discredited upon his departure it should be remembered that he did say during the summer that the squad needed major surgery.

But his recommendation appears to have not been shared by the Sporting Director Loren who added Illarra, Diego Reyes, Raul Navas, reserve keeper Oier Olazabal and Jonathas to the squad, supplemented by promoting Hector, Mikel Oyarzabal and Alain Oyarzun from the Sanse.

To balance these additions to the squad he allowed Ifran, Finnbogason (on loan), Gorka Elustondo, Zubikerai, Estrada, Gaztanaga (on loan), Hervais (on loan), and more recently Chory Castro to leave.  Five midfield or attacking players out and only three in (including Oyarsun who is yet to feature).  I have not included David Concha who was bought and then loaned out immediately.

But of the new signings only Illarra is a regular starting player which means that our optimum first team selection is virtually unchanged from last season, when it is generally accepted was not strong enough.  So we knew we needed to strengthen the first team but have failed to actually sign players to achieve that aim.  Who is responsible for that?  Surely Loren.

Teams need to develop and evolve if they are to improve and Real have become very static in this regard.  I would lay the blame for this firmly at the feet of Loren who is the common denominator in a scenario that has seen 3 different first team coaches in less than 2 full seasons.  The reserve team Sanse are currently in eighth place in their division but appear very inconsistent, they are also a bit goal shy having only scored 29 goals in 21 games.  The third team Berio is currently in 19th place in a division of 20 teams.

Loren is the Technical Director who’s job surely entails bringing players through the youth system and ultimately into the first team.  Only Joseba Zaldua and Aritz Elustondo have made the transition into becoming first team regulars in the five years since Inigo Martinez and Ruben Pardo were promoted in 2011.  Is this good enough?   I think not.

The match statistics showed: Possession 42/58% in favour of Real Sociedad, we managed 8 shots of which 3 were on target.  We won 2 corners and received 2 yellow cards: Inigo (45 minutes) and Zaldua (63 minutes).

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