Matchday 21 – Sporting Gijón v Real Sociedad

Matchday 21 – Sporting Gijón v Real Sociedad – Match Preview

Friday 22nd January 2016

Sporting Gijón are in a downward spiral at the moment currently sitting in 19th place in the table.  They have managed just one win in their last nine league matches and one in their last eleven games in all competitions. This dismal run has dropped them into the relegation zone, and if they do not turn things around quickly, relegation back to the second division looks likely.

Sporting’s current form is poor, conceding 9 goals in their last 3 matches and scoring only 2 themselves.  The team from Asturias have only managed 4 victories this season, scored a meagre 17 goals and have a total of 15 points. They have already lost 12 matches from a total of 19 played and their form needs to shows a substantial improvement if they are to have any hope of survival.

The reverse fixture at the Anoeta ended 0-0 earlier this season and with both teams rather shy in front of goal it would be no surprise if this result was repeated again tonight.  Real Sociedad will be attempting to improve on their overall statistics in league fixtures against Sporting Gijón when the two teams meet tonight.  The record books show that the Txuri-urdin have played the Asturian club 43 times at their ground, resulting in 12 victories 9 draws and 22 defeats. However the Bookmakers make the away team favourites, I hope they are correct.

Real Sociedad’s season is showing an improvement since Eusebio Sacristan replaced David Moyes as Head Coach.  This season they have also considerably improved their form away from home gaining 9 points from 10 games played so far.  The two away victories were achieved against Granada 0-3 and Levante 0-4.  Both of these clubs lie below La Reala in the table and these results could prove very influential at the end of the season when the final league positions are considered and the head to head calculations come into force.

Head Coach Eusebio announced the list of players who will travel to Gijón. The squad list is as follows: Rulli, Olazabal, Zaldua, Elustondo, Mikel, Diego Reyes, Ansotegi, Iñigo, De la Bella, Héctor, Markel Bergara, Pardo, Illarra, Xabi Prieto, Oyarzabal, Bruma, Vela and Jonathas.

Left back Yuri Berchiche failed to make the list after suffering «a muscular injury affecting the player’s left thigh», the club has confirmed.  This will result in either Hector or De la Bella starting with my preference being Hector.  Carlos Martinez is injured and so Joseba Zaldua should start as right back.  Zurutuza, Granero, Canales, Agirretxe and Raul Navas remained injured.

In general terms I believe that we still don’t have enough goal threat in the absence of top scorer Imanol Agirretxe.  Jonathas has improved in both attitude and form but there still seems to be something missing from his game.  Carlos Vela still needs to achieve more and return to the form he showed during previous seasons. He is still holding the ball for too long as he makes numerous horizontal runs across the pitch.  I believe he needs to release the ball earlier or stop going sideways and start going forward.  The return of Zaldua at right back will help in this regard as he often gets further forward than Carlos Martinez who he is replacing.

As usual I hope that Mikel Oyarzabal starts but he is more likely to be on the bench and given a few minutes towards the end of the game.  I think he deserves a better opportunity than this and hope he is introduced considerably earlier than the 87th minute as was the case against Deportivo when he still managed to hit the bar in the little time he played.

Bookmakers Bet 365 offer the following odds for this match:

Sporting to win 21/10, Draw 11/5 and Real Sociedad to win 29/20.

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