The Andalucian visitors have started the new year on a high and will attempt to carry the momentum in the Basque country too...Mid-Table Security
Real Sociedad returned to the Spanish Primera Division after a gap of three years during which they featured in the sundry regions of the Segunda Division. Even for a big club such as la Real, it was not expected to be an easy ride in the top flight this season but the Basque giants have proved themselves to be perfectly at home rubbing shoulders with the big guns.
Currently stationed in 11th place in the league standings, Sociedad have mustered a laudable 22 points from 17 matches and are five points off a Europa League slot. Martin Lasarte's side have also won five home league matches this campaign but started the new year with a 2-1 defeat to Zaragoza away from home.
However, with no commitment in the Copa del Rey in midweek, the Txuri-urdin would have got more preparation time for Saturday's encounter against Sevilla. But la Real have struggled against the big sides at the Anoeta, having lost to Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Valencia at home.
The Manzano Effect
Gregorio Manzano was expected to be Sevilla's saviour when he replaced Antonio Alvarez in September. The much heralded coach, who had worked wonders at Mallorca last season, though, struggled to keep afloat one of the biggest clubs in Spain as results didn't improve.
But Manzano is one of the better Spanish tacticians and his effect is now being felt in the Andalucian city. Sevilla have commenced the new year in perfect fashion, defeating Osasuna 1-0 at the Pizjuan on Sunday and then hammered Malaga 3-0 in the local derby in the Copa del Rey, Round of 16, second-leg tie.
With 23 points from 17 matches, Sevilla are four points off a Europa League slot and a further four behind Valencia, who occupy the final Champions League berth. The Rojiblancos' away form, though, is rather disappointing as of the eight matches on the road, they have won just three and lhave ost five.
However, striker Luis Fabiano believes that Sevilla are returning to their best and enthuses, "We had a bad run but now we are winning, there's still a lot of work to do and we have to improve many things, but Sevilla are returning little by little."
Antoine Griezmann is suspended for the match.
Didier Zokora is suspended and will miss the trip to the Basque country.