“It's hard to win away. For example, if you look at the last round of fixtures, there were only two away wins – Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. It's hard for us, but also for everyone else in the League,” suggested Real Sociedad Coach Philippe Montanier heading into his side’s away fixture at Real Betis this weekend.
There is no doubting his claim. Most teams do find the going tougher away from home. At the time of writing, only 10 teams in La Liga had managed to win an away match this term – six of them doing so just once. However, having to return to Anoeta on Saturday evening again empty handed after defeat at the Benito Villamarin, question marks will again be raised as to why La Real continue to suffer on the road.
What makes it difficult to comprehend Real Sociedad’s away day troubles is their contrasting incredible home form. They have won three from three this term, have the third tightest defence and are only bettered by Atletico Madrid and Barcelona in points accumulated. When playing at the Municipal de Anoeta, Montanier’s men have been virtually flawless.
Their away record could not be more different. Four matches played, four losses. It is the worst record in the League. They have shipped goals too, with only Rayo Vallecano and Deportivo having conceded more, but, both these sides have still managed to pick up some points along the way.
Even more puzzling for those frustrated travelling Txuri-urdin fans is that aside from their season-opener away to Barcelona, seldom have they been convincingly outplayed. Against Betis, they registered more shots on goal and matched their hosts in terms of possession. Making his debut for the Beticos was Adrian, who after making five saves was arguably the best player on the night. It was a similar story on their trips to Mallora and Levante. The opportunities were there, the end product was not.
“We have to take advantage of the opportunities that come our way. We lost this match, a match where we played well because of our lack of efficiency in front of goal,” Montanier said after Saturday night’s game.
It was a familiar tale last season for Real Sociedad. Only Racing Santander, who finished last, won fewer away matches while only four teams mustered fewer points. Similarly, in the comfort of their home ground they were only defeated on four occasions – equal with Valencia who finished third.
Speaking before his team’s clash with Real Betis, Montanier continued to down play his team’s problem. “To not win on the road so far is not a problem only for La Real. I am convinced that we have the means to get good results when playing away. It is a challenge for us, but certainly not an obsession,” he said. Yet, after another loss, he might finally have to admit that his team are suffering from a bad case of ‘away day blues’.