Match Preview / Real Sociedad – Malaga

Matchday 26 – Real Sociedad v Malaga – Match Preview

Saturday 27th February 2016

This game sees a meeting between two sides currently in mid-table positions but either team could have an outside chance of Europa League qualification.  Both teams had a poor start to their season but they have improved dramatically and moved away from the relegation zone.

The reverse fixture played in Malaga in early October saw the home team triumph 3-1 with a hat-trick from striker Charles.  The main feature of the match was a first half and totally uncharacteristic defensive horror show by Inigo Martinez, that cost his team two early goals.

Real Sociedad are eyeing their fifth straight win in La Liga, they have scored 10 goals and have won their last four league fixtures, keeping three consecutive clean sheets.  Disappointingly for manager Eusebio Sacristan he has three players suspended after the feisty derby match last weekend against Athletic Bilbao.  Striker Jonathas, defender Aritz Elustondo and midfielder Asier Illarramendi will all be missing.

Malaga arrive at the Anoeta Stadium currently in 12th position with 31 points from 25 matches.  They have both scored and conceded 22 goals and their lack of potency in front of goal is precluding them from gaining a higher league position.  Their away record against team higher in the table than them is not impressive.   In their last 20 away games against higher placed teams Malaga have only won 3, drawn 4 and lost 13 of these matches.

The Andalusians are undefeated in their most recent three meetings with Real Sociedad and did well last week to hold visitors Real Madrid to a 1-1 draw, but I would suggest they would be very happy this weekend to return South with a point.

Defender Miguel Torres and defensive midfielder Ignacio Camacho are both scheduled to miss this match through suspension.  Malaga are likely to miss the combative Camacho who this week has emerged as a target for Liverpool.  He has been influential this season in shielding the Malaga defence and Real Sociedad will hope to exploit his absence with a high pressing game.

Eusebio has named the following squad for this match:

Rulli, Bardají, Zaldua, Mikel, Diego Reyes, Iñigo, Héctor, De la Bella, Yuri, Granero, Rubén Pardo, Xabi Prieto, Capilla,  Oyarzabal, Bruma, Vela, Agirretxe and Bautista.

Imanol Agirretxe has yet to play this year after his injury sustained in the away fixture against Real Madrid.  His return is most welcome especially as Jonathas is absent due to disciplinary action.

Zurutuza is injured yet again as is reserve goal keeper Olazabal and Markel.  Long term injures continue to preclude Raul Naves, Carlos Martinez and Canales.  Illarramendi, Elustondo and Jonathas are excluded due to suspension.  Restored to the squad are Hector, Agirretxe and Granero, and also included are Sanse players Eneko Capilla and for the first time promising striker Jon Bautista.

Bautista has already scored 12 goals in 21 games for Sanse and appears to be a very promising prospect.  His promotion to the first team squad comes because of the suspension of Jonathas.  I expect Bautista to be on the bench tomorrow but I hope he will be allowed a short cameo appearance towards the end of the match.

In other news this week the club have reached an agreement with Joseba Zaldua to renew his contract until 30 June 2020. The defender effectively prolongs his stay at the club by two years – his previous contract was due to expire on 30 June 2018.

Real Sociedad have also reached an agreement to renew the contracts of four Sanse players. Jon Bautista, Igor Zubeldia, Luca Sangalli and Álvaro Odriozola.

  • Jon Bautista, striker, 20 years old and born in Errenteria, renews until 2020 (his previous contract was due to expire in 2017).

  • Igor Zubeldia, midfielder, 18 years old and born in Azcoitia, renews until 2021 (his previous contract was due to expire in 2018).

  • Álvaro Odriozola, winger, 20 years old and born in San Sebastian, renews until 2018 (his previous contract was due to expire in 2017).

  • Luca Sangalli, midfielder, 20 years old and born in San Sebastian, renews until 2018 (his previous contract was due to expire in 2017).

It is very important to secure the future of our young stars and the club have moved decisively to achieve this.  We now need to agree a deal with talisman defender Inigo Martinez to ensure all our best prospects stay firmly under our control.

Bookmakers Bet 365 offer the following odds for this match:

Real Sociedad to win 11/8, Draw 23/10 and Malaga to win 5/2.

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