La Liga gets back underway after the second international break of the season, with one of the highlights of matchday nine seeing Real Sociedad battle it out against Real Betis Balompié at the Anoeta Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Story Behind the Game
La Real will be looking to get back to winning ways after two defeats in a row, though luckily for them, the visitors also come into this one on the back of a very dubious run of form, as Betis have only one win in their last five. In this fixture last year La Real managed to come out on top in a 2-1 win, however, a lot has changed for both clubs in the past 6 months.
Of course, Betis have changed their manager, seeing Rubi replace Enrique 'Quique' Setién Solar after deepening problems between the manager and fans after a string of poor performances. This mixed in with their star player, Giovani Lo Celso, moving to Tottenham Hotspur, as well as, Júnior Firpo and Pau López also moving on, has left the club going through a transitional period.
After bringing in Borja Iglesias from RCD Espanyol Barcelona and the huge capture of Nabil Fekir from Olympique Lyon, it looked like Betis were still in good shape for the upcoming season. However, they have already conceded five goals in a game twice so far, granted one was Futbol Club Barcelona, but it was a poor-looking Barcelona side and the other was to Villarreal Club de Fútbol S.A.D. who were relegation candidates last season. In their last five games, Betis have only mustered one win and so far, this season they are yet to win away from home.
It will be important in this game to get Iglesias and Fekir rolling and creating a connection, because so far only Lorenzo Jesús Morón García has been a threat, weighing in with six goals. He has contributed over half of Betis’s league goals this season with Fekir being second on two. Betis need to get their new signings clicking with the tactics of Rubi to try and replicate their reputation for being the entertaining team they were during the past few seasons to have a chance on Sunday.
La Real, on the other hand, have had a great start to the season with them sitting at fifth in the table with four wins, however, their last two league outings has seen them lose both. The latest game was at home to Getafe Club de Fútbol in which they took the lead with Mikel Merino but after a sending off in the 53rd minute they went on to concede two and eventually lose. In the game prior to that, they lost 3-2 away to Sevilla Fútbol Club in a truly exciting game but, La Real did look tired and off the pace in this game, with Martin Ødegaard taking his time to get into this game. In this game, it will be key for him to get going straight from kick-off as his role should be aided with Portu starting to leave space for Ødegaard to dictate in the middle. If this happens it will allow Mikel Oyarzabal to continue his great scoring form, as he has a real eye for goal, often with him getting himself plenty of space and time to slot them in. If La Real can play like they did few matchdays ago they should see this out easily at home against a poor looking Betis.
La Real will be without centre-back Diego Llorente due to his red card against Getafe, they also have few missing through injury with most notable being midfielder Asier Illarramendi who looks to be out for at least another month. Other injuries include centre back Modibo Sagnan and central midfielder Rubén Pardo.
For Real Betis they have a few out through injury, with the most notable being defensive midfield William Carvalho who normally always gets the job done and winger Juanmi, other injuries include centre back Sidnei and central midfielder Wilfrid Kaptoum.
Expected line up
Real Sociedad (4-3-2-1) – Moyá; Monreal, Elustondo, Zubeldia, Zaldua; Ødegaard, Merino, Guevara; Portu, Oyarzabal; José
Real Betis (4-4-2) – Robles; Pedraza, Barta, Mandi, Emerson; Moreno, Guardado, Canales, Joaquín; Morón, Iglesias
Borja Iglesias vs Aritz Elustondo
Iglesias really needs to show the form he had last season that helped lift Espanyol into European football, so far, he only has one league goal and needs to justify the price Betis paid for him. On the other hand, Elustondo will have to manage this game without his usual partner, Llorente after his sending off. It will be interesting if he can manage the backline and ensure Iglesias is kept quiet.
Martin Ødegaard vs Sergio Canales
The key battle in this game should be between ex-Madrid potential starlet Sergio Canales and current protégé Ødegaard. So far Ødegaard has massively impressed being the key creative spark for La Real. He was recently named La Liga player of the month for September, so it will be key for him to lay his stake to win again this month, however, he didn’t really contribute much again Getafe and it took him way too long to get going against Sevilla. So, he needs to hit the ground running in this game, for Canales has to move into this midfield due to injuries. It is still massively important that he finally picks his game up to help push Betis further up the table, so it will be entertaining to see who has the better game in a central creative role.