A strong start to the season on all fronts has led to Real Sociedad emerging as title contenders. The Basque side are sitting top of La Liga after an excellent start and are progressing well in the Europa League. Manager Imanol Alguacil has put together a strong team built on solid foundations and a determined work ethic.
The San Sebastian based side have been in the wilderness for too long; under Alguacil, they have emerged as genuine title contenders. They are playing some excellent football and more importantly grinding out results when they need to.
With the global pandemic affecting football in so many ways, Real Sociedad are fully seizing their chance. They have quietly put together a strong title bid which they believe they can sustain in what remains of the season.
Real Sociedad Have Emerged As La Liga Title Contenders
Imanol Alguacil Is Doing an Excellent Job With the Royal Blues
It has been a terrific start to the season for Real Sociedad. The Royal Blues have picked up 24 points from their opening 11 league games. They sit top of the table and are in a purple patch in terms of form. They have won six of their last seven games only dropping points in their most recent game – a draw with Villarreal.
Alguacil’s team have suffered just one league defeat this season. That narrow home defeat to Valencia in late September sparked their season into life. Since that defeat, only Napoli have gotten the better of Real Sociedad. It has been an impressive start to the season and with a busy December to come, Alguacil will want to maintain that momentum.
Alguacil has taken time to build the team he currently has. He took up the managerial role in late 2018 after Asier Garitano was sacked. This is his second spell in charge of the first team; his previous time at the club was as caretaker manager during the 2017/18 season when Eusebio Sacristan was relieved of his duties. Alguacil has brought stability to the football club. This has allowed him to build a hardworking, exciting team.
He deserves huge credit having had to audition for the role. The faith placed in him is being rewarded and the club are going from strength to strength. Big games are ahead but Alguacil will be ready for the challenge.
A Quality Sociedad Squad Packed With Talent
While Alguacil deserves huge credit for the job he is doing, the players also deserve the plaudits for an excellent start to the season. A team mixed with experience, quality and homegrown talent has blended beautifully; there is a real positive atmosphere around the football club.
Sociedad are built on a strong backline led by centre back Aritz Elustondo. The 26-year-old has been a fixture in the defence helping his team keep seven clean sheets in La Liga. He is swiftly becoming a La Liga centre half and reaching his peak levels. While Alguacil has rotated his partner, Elustondo has remained the first name on the team sheet.
Alguacil has also introduced a stable midfield with David Silva at the heart of the creativity. The Premier League winner returned to Spain after 10 trophy-laden years at Manchester City. He continues to wave his footballing magic wand; unsurprisingly, he is a key member of the team. In his nine La Liga matches, Silva has contributed two assists and one goal. He has also built a strong relationship with fellow midfielder and former Newcastle United man Mikel Merino. The two have played nine games together in midfield and it’s a partnership getting better and better.
The talisman of the team is winger Mikel Oyarzabal. The 23-year-old has been around for what seems a long time, but he has excelled this season and becoming a man Alguacil can always rely on. He has seven goals in the league and unsurprisingly his role in Sociedad’s rise has been crucial. His performances have made him a regular in the Spain national squad.
Alguacil Has Utilised the Tools Available to Him
Real Sociedad have an extremely talented, well-organised team. Many of that team are made of academy products who are getting better week by week. With Oyarzabal being the diamond of the academy, there are other gems dotted around this talented team.
Robin Le Normand, Aihen Munoz and Andoni Gorosabel have been regulars in the team this season. All three are developing into quality La Liga defenders. They know their jobs and certainly are impressing with each passing game. Both have made key contributions to Sociedad’s rock-solid defence.
As well as the defence, the Sociedad midfield is filled with homegrown talent. Martin Zubimendi, Ander Guevara, Ander Barrenetxea and Roberto Lopez have all played significant roles this season. Lopez in particular has caught the eye, especially from the bench. He has two league goals only bettered by Oyarzabal and Christian Portu. This is a talented crop of midfielders who are only going to get better learning and training with the likes of David Silva.
Credit must go to the club and the manager for having so much faith in their academy. Sociedad pride themselves on their youngsters and they are being rewarded for that belief.
A Crucial December Lies Ahead for the San Sebastian Side
Real Sociedad’s terrific run of form will be severely tested; the Royal Blues face their two final Europa League group games as well as a crucial set of fixtures in La Liga in December.
Sociedad sit second in their Europa League group, their fate in their own hands. They take on HNK Rijeka before travelling to Naples in their final group game to take on Napoli. Four points from those games will be enough for Alguacil’s team to qualify for the knockout stages.
As well as Europa League fixtures, Sociedad have six league games between now and the end of 2020. It kicks off with a crucial Basque derby with Alaves who are enjoying a decent run of results.
Sociedad will take on Barcelona, second-placed Atletico Madrid and arch-rivals Athletic Bilbao in their next six. A vital run of fixtures which could define their season. They have emerged as title contenders and if they come out of these games unscathed, there will be real title ambition instilled in the team.
It’s been a strong start to the season for Real Sociedad. But there is a testing December is to come. If they can maintain their early season form, a title challenge is not out of the question. Their performances have certainly put them into title contention and there is real belief that this could be their season.