Real Madrid - Real Sociedad Preview: Los Blancos seek fresh start after winter break
Dogged by poor results, internal conflict and injuries, the defending Liga champions return to Liga action hoping to turn the corner against Philippe Montanier's side
By Karthick Arvinth
Essien, Albiol, Varane, Arbeloa
Di Maria, Ozil, Ronaldo
Estrada, Gonzalez, I Martinez, De La Bella
Vela, Prieto, Griezmann
Real Madrid have a host of defensive problems heading into Sunday's Primera Division clash with Real Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Fabio Coentrao (thigh), Pepe, Marcelo (both ankle) and Sergio Ramos (suspension) are out, but Raul Albiol, Raphael Varane and Gonzalo Higuain all return from spells on the sidelines.
Boss Jose Mourinho is under pressure to restore captain Iker Casillas to the starting line-up, after the Spain international was surprisingly dropped in favour of Antonio Adan for the 3-2 defeat at Malaga.
Real Sociedad are set to be without defender Carlos Martinez, who is struggling with a hip problem.
Midfielder Gorka Elustondo has recovered from a foot injury that has sidelined him since August and is likely to be named on the bench, but Asier Illarramendi is a minor doubt.
|DID YOU KNOW?
Real Madrid have won just four of their last nine matches in all competitions.
- Madrid conceded the fewest number of La Liga goals in 2012, shipping just 34.
- Los Merengues are on a 20-match unbeaten Liga run at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Real Sociedad are on an eight-match unbeaten run in all competitions (W4, D4)
- The Basque outfit have lost their last seven encounter with Madrid.
Sociedad's last Liga win at the Bernabeu was a 4-1 success in May 2004.
|Sign up with William Hill for a free bet up to £25|
|Sign up with bet365 for a free bet up to £200|
|Sign up to Paddy Power for £250 in free bets|
Top 3 Predictions
Real Madrid CF 3-1 Real Sociedad
- 11.19 %
Real Madrid CF 3-0 Real Sociedad
- 8.14 %
Real Madrid CF 4-1 Real Sociedad
- 6.54 %
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Nov 9, 2013||Real Madrid CF 5 - Real Sociedad 1|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||May 26, 2013||Real Sociedad 3 - Real Madrid CF 3|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Jan 6, 2013||Real Madrid CF 4 - Real Sociedad 3|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Mar 24, 2012||Real Madrid CF 5 - Real Sociedad 1|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Oct 29, 2011||Real Sociedad 0 - Real Madrid CF 1|
|Real Madrid CF|
|Mar 2, 2014||Atletico Madrid 2 - Real Madrid CF 2||LIGA|
|Feb 26, 2014||Schalke 04 1 - Real Madrid CF 6||UCL|
|Feb 22, 2014||Real Madrid CF 3 - Elche 0||LIGA|
|Feb 16, 2014||Getafe 0 - Real Madrid CF 3||LIGA|
|Feb 11, 2014||Atletico Madrid 0 - Real Madrid CF 2||ESPC|
|22||Ángel Di María||Midfielder|
|3||Mikel González Martínez||Defender|
|24||Alberto De la Bella||Defender|
|4||Gorka Gorka Elustondo Urkiola||Midfielder|
The Real Madrid captain is likely to be restored between the sticks after Mourinho's gamble on starting Adan backfired against Malaga. The spotlight will be firmly focused on Casillas as he strives to plug a rearguard that has shipped nine goals in its last four outings.
The Uruguayan is likely to get the nod over Imanol Agirretxe to spearhead Real Sociedad's attack at the Bernabeu. Ifran will look to capitalise on errors from Madrid's makeshift backline and fire his side to their first win over the hosts in eight years.
While defensive concerns remain, the return of Higuain should help Madrid have some of their swagger back up front. Sociedad have been in a good run of form of late but will do well to get a point out of this.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed