Match Preview / Sevilla – Real Sociedad

Sunday 3rd April 2016

Real Sociedad return from the International break and restart their league campaign with a very tough away fixture against Sevilla. The Andalusians have won their last 13 consecutive home fixtures and rightlyconsider Estadio Sanchez Pizjuan to be a fortress.  In their 15 home fixtures so far this season they have scored 33 times, conceding 14.

Sevilla have won 2, lost 2 and drawn 1 from their last 5 matches in all competitions. They currently sit in 6th place in La Liga with 48 points and are level points with Celta Vigo in 5th, but just 1 point ahead of Athletic Bilbao in 7th. It is therefore looking like a battle between these 3 teams to compete for the 2 Europa League qualification places.

Real Sociedad arrive in Seville on the back of a miserable run of form. They are without a win in their last 5 matches, losing 3 and drawing 2.  They currently sit 11th, 1 point behind Deportivo La Coruna in 10th and on level points with Espanyol in 12th. In their last league match they hosted Las Palmas in a game they really should have won, but the Canary Islanders scored the only goal of the game in the first half to win 0- 1.

La Reala have a difficult run of fixtures ahead of them and are currently only 7 points ahead of the relegation places. After the Sevilla fixture they still have to face Barcelona and Real Madrid at home and travel to Villarreal. There is little expectation that these matches will result in points being gained by the Basque outfit.

Life is becoming very difficult for Eusebio Sacristán as his team continue to be be hugely inconsistent, dominating matches without turning their superiority into points.  The great form that his team showed during the month of February seems a long time ago.

It is reported that Iñigo Martinez’s long running contract renewal negotiation at Real Sociedad is ‘complicated’ and talks have ground to a halt.  The defender has been discussing a four-year extension to his current contract, which ends in 2017.

This unsatisfactory situation will potentially alert Athletic Bilbao who have been linked with an attempt to take advantage of the situation by going for Inigo, who would be an ideal signing if Aymeric Laporte, who is heavily linked with a move to the Premier League, left San Mames.

The worst possible scenario would be if Athletic Club could convince Inigo to abandon his contract extension and then leave Real and sign for them on a free transfer next summer.

Inigo aired his concerns about the contract situation in an interview with Mundo Deportivo, saying that he ‘has doubts’ about signing. “When I see the club has done all they really can, I will sign,” he stated.  Inigo’s wages are the main issue and La Reala also want to increase his release clause, but the parties are deadlocked and can’t agree terms.

La Reala are understood to still be confident a deal will be reached and feel they are making a major effort to keep Inigo at Anoeta.  The club had wanted to announce a deal before the end of the season.

However I think that there is a major chance that this may not be the case.  Iñigo will obviously be concerned about the inconsistent form of the team which has not helped helped his International career.  He may consider this a good time to move and he won’t be short of suitors.

In any event Sanse player Srdjan Babic will be promoted to the first team squad next season and plays in the same position as Inigo.  Babic also has a considerable height advantage at 1.93m over Inigo at 1.81m, and he has a contract until June 2019.  The potential central defensive paring of Elustondo and Babic would solve the issue of both central defenders being too small if Babic replaced Iñigo.

The club may recognise that selling Inigo now would allow them to realise a transfer fee instead of risking losing him on a free transfer in just over 12 months time.  It is a dilemma which I believe will end in Inigo’s departure at the end of this season.

Eusebio has named the following squad for this match:

Rulli, Bardají, Carlos Martínez, Aritz Elustondo, Mikel, Diego Reyes, Iñigo, De la Bella, Yuri, Markel, Granero, Illarra, Xabi Prieto, Zurutuza, Oyarzabal, Vela, Bruma and Jonathas.

Still out long term injured are Canales, Agirretxe and Raul Navas, they are joined by Zaldua and Olazabal.  Hector has not been selected for technical reasons.

I think it will be very difficult for Real to get anything from this match especially with the home form that Sevilla achieve.  I am surprised that the bookmakers have not favoured them more heavily.   I sincerely hope I am proved wrong.

Bookmakers Bet 365 offer the following odds for this match:

Sevilla to win 8/13, Draw 3/1 and Real Sociedad to win 9/2.

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