New Delhi, Jan 28 (IANS) The world will be watching as Real Madrid and Real Sociedad face off on Monday (1:30am IST) at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, with the second-placed and third-placed teams in LaLiga Santander doing battle.
These are two clubs who are battling for the top spot in the table, who are led by elite coaches and star players and who play a thrilling brand of football.
A duel between two great goalkeepers: Courtois vs Remiro
The fact that both Real Madrid and Real Sociedad are near the top of the table, racking up points week after week, is partly down to their two goalkeepers. Thibaut Courtois and Alex Remiro having been making saves for their teams week in week out, producing parries that are worth points. Now, they'll face each other in the capital. The Basque side's goalkeeper has managed to keep seven clean sheets this season in LaLiga Santander and the Belgian, even if he has only managed to do so on two occasions, has a similar save percentage. It's 72% of shots stopped for Real Madrid No.1, and 71% for the Real Sociedad goalkeeper.
The return of Kubo to the Bernabeu
This match will be special for Takefusa Kubo, who didn't have the chance to show his skills at the Santiago Bernabeu during his time on Real Madrid's books, but who'll look to do so in the blue and white of Real Sociedad this weekend. The Japanese player is at the top of his game, in a season in which he is dazzling and in which he is becoming a leader in Imanol Alguacil's team. He already has three goals and three assists in LaLiga Santander this season and has integrated wonderfully into the San Sebastián unit. He'll be one of La Real's key players and one of the ones to watch as Kubo and his teammates look to storm the Bernabeu.
The tactical duel between Imanol and Ancelotti
Real Sociedad have had a very clear and defined style of play since Imanol Alguacil became their coach. Their possession and passing game has become the norm in San Sebastián and has led to comparisons with the very top teams. Both Carlo Ancelotti's Real Madrid and Imanol's Real Sociedad will want to have the ball in this game, as they are two teams that tend to win the possession battle in their matches. They are also two of the teams to have played the most passes in the division, as Los Blancos have made 9,854 passes so far and La Real have made 8,352.
Benzema can overtake Raul
With the goal he scored at San Mames against Athletic Club last time out, Karim Benzema equalled Raúl González as Real Madrid's second all-time top scorer in LaLiga Santander, with 228 goals. In addition, in the last six matches against Real Sociedad he has scored 3 goals and given 3 assists. If he scores this weekend, he will surpass the Spanish legend and also become the fifth highest scorer in the history of the competition, behind only Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Telmo Zarra and Hugo Sanchez, who scored 234 and who will be the next target for Real Madrid's French striker.
Real Sociedad's pursuit of records
Imanol's team will arrive at the Bernabeu on the back of a tremendous run of results, as they have won their last five LaLiga Santander matches, against Sevilla FC, CA Osasuna, UD Almería, Athletic Club and Rayo Vallecano. What's more, those five matches have one thing in common, as Alexander Sorloth has scored in all of them. The Norwegian striker is on a hot streak and could equal the only two Real Sociedad players to have scored in six consecutive games in the 21st century, Darko Kovacevic and Aleksander Isak.