Real Sociedad sit pretty at the top of the La Liga standings after their opening seven rounds of league action, and their position as leader is no fluke.
Although the full La Liga table is yet to shake out fully due to various teams with games in hand, La Real have proven to be a cut above the rest in this early stage. They currently have 14 points with four wins from their seven games. Most impressive is their strong backline which has only conceded three goals – less than one every other game. The team have kept four clean sheets in their seven outings, including a creditable scoreless draw in their first home game against Real Madrid.
Impressive victories include their convincing 3-0 win at Real Betis; clinically dispatching the Andalusians and their victory was underpinned by the hallmarks of their manager Imanol Aguacil. He preaches a 4-1-4-1 formation which is rigid and well-drilled. Their organisation comes from last season’s solidity with their Scandinavian attacking duo Alexander Isak and Martin Odegaard pushing the Basque club to a top-six finish and Europa League football.
As Odegaard returned to Real Madrid, the San Sebastian side found a ready-made replacement in magician David Silva. After a decade of success at Manchester City, the midfielder from Las Palmas returned to Spanish shores this summer. It represented a notable coup for La Real Although he is not at 100 percent, Silva has already shown enough glimpses of that vision, elegance and defence-splitting passes to give his team another dimension. Silva’s style fits perfectly into a team ethos which likes to patiently build from the back and take as many touches as possible to arrive at the final third of the pitch. They pick and choose their moments to cut through an opponent. Despite a tendency to overdo it, they remain loyal to their cultured philosophy.
It is currently reaping dividends as it is clear to see Real Sociedad are a finished article who like to boss games by taking the initiative with the ball being the protagonist. Patience is a virtue which has guided them to the top of the table and deservingly so. Finding out whether or not they can stay there will be a key betting market this season, it is possible to bet in Nigeria here to find out.
Silva is the standout figure, yet this is no one-man-team. Spain international Mikel Oyarzabal has been a consistent performer for his club for a while and his quality as left wing and as a striker make him their principal danger man. His great crossing ability allied with a goal scorer’s smell gives them an attacking edge. Willian José is another attacker who has performed well since his move from Las Palmas. He scored 11 goals last season along with Alexander Isak, who netted 16 times.
Added to this is the team’s joint top scorer this season Cristian Portu (four goals) – a very skilful and classy performer on his day. So too is Adnan Januzaj, who has improved notably since his time with Manchester United. The Belgium international scored a wonderful goal in his team’s win at Real Betis, smacking the ball into the roof of the net. The statistics are further proof that Real Sociedad have an abundance of attacking options and goals in their ranks.
However, one of the Real Sociedad’s standout performers goes under the radar. Mikel Merino is the team’s midfield general and is in some ways an underrated figure of Spanish football. He had a difficult spell in the Premier League and was unable to settle on Tyneside with Newcastle United. Yet, his return to La Liga has rejuvenated his career and he has been a consistent performer in his three years with the club with crucial interventions and goals.
La Real are a team which have gradually grown in recent seasons. They have matured into a well-polished and entertaining side. They possess a mixture of defensive solidity with attacking flair. That blend of steel and silk has pushed them to European football where they commence their bid for glory in a group which includes Italian side Napoli. A tie not to be missed given both teams abilities in their ranks and desire to entertain.
The side from San Sebastian are in good shape and are primed for a successful season both at home and in Europe. Their star is shining as brightly as ever.