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Real Sociedad logo
La Liga | Gameweek 26
Feb 23, 2024 at 8pm UK
Reale Arena
Villarreal logo

Real Sociedad
1 - 3

Merino (86')
Le Normand (51'), Silva (62'), Zakharyan (69')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Comesana (17', 47'), Sorloth (90+5')
Jorgensen (60'), Mosquera (62'), Albiol (63'), Cuenca (88')

Preview: Real Sociedad vs. Villarreal - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Friday's La Liga clash between Real Sociedad and Villarreal, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Real Sociedad will be bidding to make it successive victories in Spain's top flight when they welcome Villarreal to the Reale Arena on Friday evening.

The home side will enter the contest off the back of a 2-1 win at Mallorca, while Villarreal drew 1-1 with Getafe in their last match at this level of football.

Match preview

Real Sociedad coach Imanol Alguacil on February 14, 2024© Reuters

There is no getting away from the fact that Real Sociedad's league form has suffered due to their involvement in the Champions League and Copa del Rey, with the Basque outfit currently in sixth position in the La Liga table.

Sixth is hardly disastrous, but they finished fourth last term, picking up 71 points during an excellent campaign, and they are currently 11 points behind fourth-placed Atletico Madrid on the same number of games (25).

The White and Blues are only one point ahead of seventh-placed Real Betis, meanwhile, and nine behind Athletic Bilbao in fifth, so they might need to win the Champions League this season to qualify for Europe next term, but even making the next stage of the European Cup is going to be a tall order.

Indeed, Imanol Alguacil's side suffered a 2-0 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their last-16 Champions League clash last week.

Real Sociedad, as mentioned, beat Mallorca 2-1 in the league last weekend, and they will take on Javier Aguirre's side once again in the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final next week, with the tie delicately poised following a goalless draw in their opening clash.

Villarreal coach Marcelino reacts on January 27, 2024© Reuters

Villarreal, meanwhile, will enter this match off the back of a 1-1 draw with Getafe last Friday, which proved to be their third straight draw in a row in Spain's top flight.

The Yellow Submarine have shared the points in four of their last five matches at this level, but the run also includes a standout 5-3 victory over Barcelona.

Marcelino's side are also active in Europe this season, and they will definitely need to win the Europa League to be active in the Champions League during the 2024-25 campaign.

A difficult league campaign has seen Villarreal pick up only 26 points from their 25 league matches, which has left them down in 13th position in the table, some 14 points behind sixth-placed Real Sociedad.

Villarreal have been inconsistent on their travels this season, picking up 13 points from 12 matches, while Real Sociedad have picked up 20 points from their 12 league games in front of their own supporters courtesy of a record of five wins, five draws and two defeats.

Real Sociedad La Liga form:

Real Sociedad form (all competitions):

Villarreal La Liga form:

Team News

Real Sociedad's Takefusa Kubo on October 24, 2023© Reuters

Real Sociedad have a huge injury list at this stage of the season, with Takefusa Kubo, Hamari Traore, Sheraldo Becker, Alvaro Odriozola, Kieran Tierney, Martin Merquelanz, Aihen Munoz and Carlos Fernandez all out.

The club will also need to conduct late fitness tests on Artiz Elustondo and Mikel Oyarzabal, so it is possible that as many as 10 first-team players will be unavailable for selection on Friday.

Jon Pacheco could come into the defence for Friday's contest, while both Ander Barrenetxea and Andre Silva are pushing to be involved in the final third of the field against the Yellow Submarine.

As for Villarreal, Alex Baena, Alexander Sorloth, Alfonso Pedraza, Roman Terrats, Juan Foyth and Denis Suarez are unavailable for selection for this match.

Head coach Marcelino is unlikely to make many changes to the side that took to the field for the first whistle against Getafe, but Jose Luis Morales could be introduced in a wide area.

Gerard Moreno and Goncalo Guedes should continue as the front two for the visitors on Friday, while Santi Comesana and Francis Coquelin could retain their spots in the middle of midfield.

Real Sociedad possible starting lineup:
Remiro; Pacheco, Zubeldia, Le Normand, Galan; Mendez, Zubimendi, Merino; Barrenetxea, A Silva, Zakharyan

Villarreal possible starting lineup:
Jorgensen; Femenia, Albiol, Mosquera, A Moreno; Akhomach, Comesana, Coquelin, Morales; Guedes, G Moreno

SM words green background

We say: Real Sociedad 2-1 Villarreal

Real Sociedad recorded a 3-0 win over Villarreal in the reverse match earlier this season; we are not expecting it to be so one-sided in this game, especially considering the home side's injury problems. However, Real Sociedad should still have enough quality to navigate their way to an important three points.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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