Los Periquitos go in search of their first away points of the season against the Txuri-urdin...
A strong start to the Primera Division season is already starting to fade into the history books as Real Sociedad begin to grapple with the realities of being a top flight club, failing to pick up a point in any of their last three matches to leave them hovering just above the relegation zone ahead of their fixture against Real Sociedad.
An opening day success at home over Villarreal gave the San Sebastian club great cause of optimism, but after conceding a late equalising goal against Almeria in their second outing they’ve struggled. Defeat against Real Madrid was wholly expected, but losses against Osasuna and Mallorca have since followed, leaving the Basques facing the prospect of a long winless run.
Saturday’s encounter will be a special one for Raul Tamudo, who left Espanyol in acrimonious circumstances last summer after a long association with the Barcelona club.
“On Saturday I will feel weird on the pitch at Anoeta,” he confessed to Marca ahead of his first ever meeting against los Periquitos, before confirming his intention to pick up the win. “Real need three points to dispel any nervousness.”
Tamudo would not confirm whether he would celebrate a goal or not, but there can be little doubt that there would be some partying in San Sebastian if la Real were to pick up their second win of the season.
It’s the goal of Espanyol to establish themselves as a top half club this season after bubbling about the lower part of the mid-table section of the Primera Division over the course of the last few seasons. Mauricio Pochettino’s side have started their business in a positive manner, but the coach, who had his contract renewed this week, will want to see los Periquitos raise their game away from home.
Winning at the Cornella-El Prat has not proven a problem in the early part of this season. With nine points from nine, they have more marks at home than other side, but on the road they are presently pointless, having been thumped by Villarreal (4-0) and Real Madrid (3-0).
Striker Pablo Osvaldo, who has been struggling with injury of late, has attempted to explain the phenomenon. “We have played well away from home but lost because of certain circumstances,” he told AS. “I think it is a psychological factor because the team have played very well.
“We always try to win and the team should strive to forget our figures away from home, particularly last year, when we won only two games.”
Given their performances on the road, los Periquitos certainly don’t deserve the 7-0 aggregate score they presently have away from Barcelona, and they will be eager to redress the balance on Saturday.
Last weekend, coach Martin Lasarte was able to name a strong squad for the encounter against Mallorca, and having had no fresh reports of injury troubles he will can select from the same panel. Raul Tamudo has started each of the last two games ahead of Joseba Llorente, who has been carrying a slight knock, and the former Espanyol man will be desperate to complete a hat-trick of successive starts.
Pablo Daniel Osvaldo is expected to be back in the starting XI after making a cameo from the bench last weekend. The striker has been the major source of goals for Mauricio Pochettino since the turn of the year, when he signed from Bologna.
Ivan de la Pena is again missing due to injury, this time an adductor problem, while there are doubts over the wellbeing of Victor Ruiz and Jesus Datolo, with the latter significantly less likely to feature. David and Sergio Garcia are making progress, but it may not be enough to force them into the reckoning.
Raul Baena is back.