After a gripping opening weekend in La Liga, anticipation has been understandably rife ahead of Week 2. Naturally, much of the focus is on Real Madrid as it always seems to be, and following a pretty routine 2-0 win over Cordoba in Week 1, they look set for a much sterner test of their credentials in their first away game of the season.
That’ll be a clash with Basque outfit Real Sociedad. Their home stadium—the Anoeta—was a perilously difficult place to visit throughout the 2013/14 campaign, and La Real’s supporters will surely create a daunting atmosphere for this new look Madrid outfit.
It’s sure to be an engrossing battle and if previous fixtures are anything to go by—the last five meetings between these two have yielded a whopping 29 goals, per ESPN—then we should be treated to a feast of open, attacking action.
Here’s all the details you need on where to catch Madrid’s first away game of the La Liga campaign and a look at how this one is set to pan out.
Date: Sunday, 31 August
Time: 8 p.m. (BST), 3 p.m (ET)
Live Stream: Sky Go (UK), beIN Sports Connect (US)
TV Info: Live on Sky Sports 5 (UK), Live on beIN Sports (US)
Over the past few months, Real Madrid’s actions have been pretty standard when it comes to the club’s long and illustrious history. The club won the European Cup back in May—their 10th in all—and during the summer months they’ve spent vast amounts of money to secure the signatures of two players that shone at this summer’s World Cup. Common practice if you’re a Madridista, I suppose.
But a portion of that momentum was sapped away in Week 1 of La Liga, as a resilient Cordoba side rocked up to the Bernabeu Stadium and frustrated the European champions for long spells. Eventually, a goal apiece from Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo was enough to secure an unconvincing three points for the home side.
Nonetheless, it was an underwhelming showing from an XI that boasted not only the two aforementioned talents, but Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos, too. And although there were some murmurings of discontent in pockets of the ground, Carlo Ancelotti insisted the Los Blancos fans remain fully behind his team, per Dermot Corrigan of ESPN:
Ancelotti: “I did not hear any whistles. I heard that in moment when we were suffering our fans helped us.”— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) August 25, 2014
The Italian will be well aware that his side must improve if they’re to bring three points back to the capital in Week 2, though. They’ll travel to the Anoeta to take on Sociedad and although the Basque side have lost a vital player in Antoine Griezmann, Jagoba Arrasate’s team still boasts some quality players. Most notably, Inigo Martinez, Xabi Prieto and Carlos Vela.
La Real will be desperate to bounce back from a disastrous start to the season. In La Liga Week 1 they lost to newly promoted minnows Eibar and European heartache followed not long after as they were knocked out of the Europa League by Russian team Krasnodar.
If there’s one crumb of comfort they can cling onto ahead of this one, it may be that Madrid’s talisman Ronaldo seemed to be carrying an injury against Cordoba. But he still scored and a few days later was named UEFA’s Player of the Year at the recent Champions League draw, as noted here by SportsCenter:
Cristiano Ronaldo wins UEFA's Best Player in Europe over Manuel Neuer & Arjen Robben, his 1st time winning the award. pic.twitter.com/ZzFohTRmTa— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 28, 2014
That should give the Portuguese forward a major boost heading into this one—fitness permitting—and he’ll be looking to play a vital role in a game where Madrid should be taking all three points.
Who will win?
The Basque side will sit in and make things tough for the visitors, but given the stellar firepower Madrid have in their armoury, they won’t have enough to keep them out over the course of the 90 minutes.
It’ll be tough for Ancelotti’s troops and it’s vital they remain patient throughout, but playing away from home and without the spectre of the steep stands of the Bernabeu hanging over them, expect this new-look Madrid side to flourish at the Anoeta and lay down a firm indication of their title credentials.
Prediction: Real Sociedad 0-3 Real Madrid