Paul Murray´s Match Preview / Real Sociedad – Atletico

Paul Murray´s Match Preview / Real Sociedad – Atletico

Matchday 8 –  Sunday 18th October 2015

The difficult home fixture against title contenders Atletico Madrid will see the return of former Txuri Urdin favourite son Antoine Griezmann.  The Frenchman only played for about the last 5 minutes as a substitute in this fixture last season but is likely to play a much more prominent role this weekend.

The team from the capital is currently 5th with 13 points after winning 4, drawing 1 and losing 2 of their league games so far.  The departures of Mandzukic, Raul Garcia, Miranda and other squad players appear to have weaken their squad slightly as new big money signings of Jackson Martinez, Luciano Vietto, Carrasco and Correa are yet to make a major impact.  Atletico have for many seasons had a high turnover rate of players within their squad so I expect normal service will be resumed shortly as the new players settle in.

After scoring 22 league goals last season Antoine Griezmann is very much the danger man for Atletico, his intelligence both on and off the ball can make him very difficult to mark effectively and he has improved immensely as a player under the management of Diego Simeone.

Atletico, set up in the image of coach Diego Simone, are by design a very difficult team to play against.  They play in a deliberately physical manner imposing themselves on their opposition. Their brilliantly effective pressing game stifles their opponents and they always play with the same high intensity for the entire match.

Set up to play on the counter attack, especially away from home, Griezmann’s pace and movement has become hugely effective for them.  Their use of overlapping full backs (Juanfran and Filipe Luis) is also a long established attacking strategy that serves them well. Atletico are very dangerous from set plays, especially corners which is the complete opposite of Real Sociedad who rarely pose a threat from dead ball situations.

Real, for the first time in ages should have virtually a full squad available but there remains a doubt concerning the fitness of Iñigo Martinez who is still suffering from the hip injury that forced him to withdraw from the Spanish International squad over the last 10 days.

Joseba Zaldua should rejoin the squad which will put Aritz Elustondo’s place in the team in jeopardy.  Aritz has done well in Zaldua’s absence but still needs to work on the defensive aspect of his game.  It may be difficult for Aritz to feature much in the first team in the immediate future with the return of Carlos Martinez to the squad after a 4 month absence as well as Zaldua being available again for selection.

In my opinion this game calls for Moyes to use the combative qualities of Markel Bergara in midfield but I anticipate he will disregard this advice and field the fit again Esteban Granero.  In any event this will not be a game suited to Ruben Pardo who I expect will be dropped to the bench.

Still yet to win at home after 3 matches Moyes is beginning to stretch the patience of the home supporters who are not enamoured with the cautious tactics.  Admittedly he has strengthened our defensive play, however our lack of attacking prowess so far, 2 goals in 3 matches, is frustrating the fans who are accustomed to a more dynamic style.

It is now nearly one year ago that David Moyes signed an 18 month contract with La Reala, replacing Arrasate as Head Coach, but a dismal start to this season raises serious doubts not only about whether that deal will be extended, but also whether Moyes will actually see out the contract term originally agreed.

This week the UK press have heavily linked Moyes with joining Aston Villa, replacing Tim Sherwood.  Villa have also had a mediocre start to their season, currently lying in 18th place.  They are away at Chelsea on Saturday which despite the team from London’s poor recent form is not a game for them to expect to take points from.  Failure in that match, even if expected, is likely too increase the speculation concerning Sherwood’s future at Villa.  This could create an ideal opportunity for Moyes to seek a return to England especially as he must be feeling the pressure from the poor points return so far of his under performing Real Sociedad team.

Despite the current league position of the team the President remains totally supportive of Moyes, but in any event that is his nature.  The question could revolve around how hard will he actually fight to retain the Scot should a Premier League club make a formal approach.  From the President’s point of view It may come down to who is available to actually replace him should Moyes attempt to depart prematurely.

Our poor points tally so far this season is not all the fault of Moyes who is blameless for the indifferent form of talisman Carlos Vela, but he has to find a way to make the team more potent in attack.  Vela was apparently the star player in the midweek International fixture between Mexico and Panama, scoring the only goal.  This is encouraging but both he and Diego Reyes will not return to San Sebastian until Friday, which is not ideal preparation for the tough Atletico match.

In basic terms I believe we need to play quicker and more dynamically instead of our current obsession with meaningless possession in areas of the pitch that offer no goal threat to our opposition.  We need to start matches aggressively and attack from the kick off, seizing the momentum and not allowing our opponents to settle down.  I want to see us get the ball forward into the penalty are much more quickly, and make the opposition goal keeper work.  I am sure this is what we all want to see!

I think it is vital that we take a point from the Atletico match, but I have little confidence that this will actually be achieved.  We won this fixture 2-1 last season in Asier Santana’s only game in charge of the first team.  Failure to gain at least a point from this fixture and a poor result for Aston Villa at Chelsea this weekend may see Santana closer to a return to that position in the very near future.

This week has also seen us drawn against Las Palmas in the Copa del Rey, the first leg of the fixture is to be played away in the 2nd December.

Bet365 offer the following odds for this match:

Real Sociedad to win 14/5, Draw 23/10 and Atletico to win Evens.

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