Isak and La Real return to the Santiago Bernabeu with happy memories

Real Sociedad won 4-3 the last time they visited the Bernabéu thanks to an Alexander Isak masterclass.

Real Madrid have rediscovered their form, but Carlo Ancelotti’s charges have a very difficult test coming up this Saturday night at 21:00 CET when they host Real Sociedad at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu.

When these two clubs met earlier in the season, a match that Real Madrid won 2-0, it was a clash between the teams sitting first and third in the standings at the time. Although the Basque side have since slipped down the table to seventh, they are still a tough proposition for all their opponents and they have plenty to play for as they chase European qualification.

Real Sociedad will also pose Real Madrid with a different kind of puzzle to solve. While some of Los Blancos’ recent opponents have been more defensive-minded, Imanol Alguacil’s Real Sociedad side are very ambitious and will go to the Bernabéu wanting to win the possession battle. With a midfield containing pass masters such as Mikel Merino, David Silva and Rafinha, they’ll pose quite the challenge to Madrid’s midfield.

The Basque outfit will also travel to the Bernabéu with confidence and positive memories, having won 4-3 there on their last visit. That was in February of 2020 in the Copa del Rey that La Real went on to win, with Alexander Isak putting on a show by scoring twice and assisting Merino for another, while then-loanee Martin Ødegaard scored his side’s other goal in that seven-goal thriller to eliminate his parent club.

Real Sociedad’s good recent record against Real Madrid

That Copa del Rey victory of two years ago was just one of several good recent results Real Sociedad have enjoyed against Los Blancos. When they went away to play Real Madrid in LaLiga Santander last season, a match that was held behind closed doors at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano in Valdebebas, it finished 1-1 and required an 89th minute Vini Jr goal just for Real Madrid to take a point.

In fact, Imanol’s record against Real Madrid as La Real’s head coach is perfectly balanced, as he has won three times, drawn twice and lost three times. Few coaches have faced Real Madrid on that many occasions and come out the other side having given as good as they’ve gotten.

In each of 2018/19, 2019/20 and 2020/21, Real Sociedad have earned at least one draw or win against Real Madrid, so the Txuri-Urdin will hope to avenge their loss from earlier this campaign and keep this pattern up for 2021/22.

Illarramendi could have minutes at his former home

The Bernabeu crowd may have the chance to applaud a former player in this game, as Asier Illarramendi returns to the stadium he called home between 2013 and 2015, back when Ancelotti was previously in charge in the capital. The 31-year-old has suffered injury after injury in recent years, but was fit enough to play his first LaLiga Santander game of the season last weekend as La Real defeated CA Osasuna 1-0.

The midfielder hasn’t gotten on the pitch in any of the past five meetings between the only two clubs he has represented in his career, not featuring in this fixture since May of 2019, but he remains determined to contribute to Imanol’s impressive project and to be a leader for the many talented youngsters in the squad.

If the No.4 does have any minutes on the Bernabeu pitch on Saturday night, it’ll surely be a special and emotional moment.

Image by EPA-EFE/Javier Etxezarreta

Tags Alexander Isak Luka Modric Real Madrid Real Sociedad
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