Real Sociedad were arguably the most enjoyable team to watch in LaLiga last term as a youthful squad managed to produce some excellent football. They have plenty of extra cup distractions this term but will be hoping the evolution continues despite the loss of influential loanee Martin Ødegaard. Read on for our 2020/21 Real Sociedad season preview.
Last Season – 6th
Despite poor form post-lockdown, Real Sociedad sealed Europa League qualification on the final weekend in dramatic fashion with Adnan Januzaj scoring a late leveller at the Wanda Metropolitano. It was fully deserved after an enterprising campaign which saw young talents such as Mikel Oyarzabal, Mikel Merino and Real Madrid loanee Ødegaard play starring roles as La Real attacked league and cup alike.
There were plenty of highlights, but their standout showing was a dominant Copa del Rey Quarter-Final win at the Bernabeu which set Real Sociedad on their way to an all-Basque Copa del Rey Final, one which still needs to be played.
They were also aided by a much improved Anoeta, with attendances up and fans now much closer to the pitch than was previously possible before renovation work in the summer of 2019.
Real Sociedad Summer Transfers
David Silva | from Manchester City | FREE
Martin Ødegaard | to Real Madrid | LOAN ENDED
(Transfers up to 2nd September 2020.)
Coach – Imanol Alguacil
Despite everything they achieved last season, Imanol continues to float under the radar and seldom receives any real praise. That’s a bit unfair given he has over a 45% win ratio with La Real since taking over permanently in December 2018 and has overseen a transition to what has generally been both an attractive and successful style of football.
Perhaps being a low profile coach suits him and he rarely causes a stir in the media. However with European football on the horizon this season, Imanol may get more limelight if he manages to guide La Real into the latter stages of the Europa League.
Possible Real Sociedad Line Up 2020/21
Losing Ødegaard, who was initially expected to spend two years on loan at Real Sociedad, is clearly a massive blow with the Norwegian having been the standout performer last term. The idea that La Real could find any way of filling those boots this summer seemed all but impossible but they’ve pulled off a major coup by convincing legendary midfielder David Silva to join the club.
At 34, Silva won’t be able to play every minute of every game with a busy season ahead which will see Real Sociedad play Europa League, Supercopa and Copa del Rey football in addition to their league commitments, whilst the biggest game of their season will be a match that was supposed to take place last term – the 2020 Copa del Rey Final. However the former Manchester City man is still operating at a high enough level to make a big contribution and his experience could be just what this young team needs.
With no other transfer activity to speak of (at the time of writing), it will be mostly the same again for La Real in 2020/21. The weakest area of their team remains at the back with their keeper and central defence not quite at the level of an elite team. Rumoured interest in former Athletic defensive midfielder/centre back Javi Martínez would add some much needed defensive protection should a deal be struck with Bayern and would certainly add some spice to the Basque derbies this season.
In midfield, Mikel Merino and Igor Zubeldia both shone last term and should keep their places with Asier Illarramendi still struggling with injury problems. Mikel Oyarzabal and Portu ought to be the first choice wingers again with Alexander Isak hoping to dislodge Willian Jose and become La Real’s regular striker. With all the cup commitments though, even La Real’s squad players should get plenty of minutes under their belts.
Key Man – Mikel Oyarzabal
Mikel Oyarzabal has the opportunity to step up and be the main man for Real Sociedad again this season. Regularly linked with moves away, that big transfer has so far eluded the Eibar-born 23 year old. When you look at his numbers, it’s perhaps a surprise that a European giant hasn’t come in for the winger with Oyarzabal reaching double figures for both goals and assists in LaLiga 2019/20.
He has been a consistent performer for La Real for many years now since breaking into the team as a teenager in 2015. With European football to showcase his talents further and the Euros on the horizon next summer, this could be the season when Oyarzabal really explodes.
One to Watch – Alexander Isak
— Goal (@goal) February 6, 2020
There was a section of last season when Alexander Isak really did explode with 12 goals in 12 games between December and February including a memorable match-winning display away to Real Madrid in the Copa. Isak scored again to help La Real beat Basque rivals Athletic the following weekend, but would only manage two more goals during the remainder of the season as Willian Jose continued to operate as Imanol’s preferred striker.
At 20 years old, Isak clearly has all the talent needed to change a game and score lots of goals and if he can add greater consistency to his game this season, he could really kick on and establish himself as one of the top young strikers in the European game.
Real Sociedad 2020/21 Targets
The cups will be a big target for La Real this season and particularly that Copa del Rey Final against Athletic whenever it finally gets played. It’ll be interesting to see how Imanol approaches the Europa League, as without fresh recruitment their squad looks a little bit light on depth to compete seriously on multiple fronts. We saw them struggle during the end of the 2019/20 season with two games per week and it’s perhaps a slight surprise that they’ve not been more active in terms of recruitment so far.
Overall though, there is just so much talent in this Real Sociedad midfield and attack, that they look capable of emulating last season’s achievement and sneaking into the top six with few obvious candidates to replace them.
LLE Prediction: 6th
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