Real Madrid will look to bounce back from their Copa del Rey disappointment when they visit Real Sociedad in La Liga on Sunday.
In the penultimate round of action, second-placed Real Madrid – who are 13 points behind champions Barcelona – face a difficult road trip.
Sociedad sit fourth in the table and are locked in a battle with Valencia, who are behind them on goal difference only, for the position, which would earn them entrance into the UEFA Champions League qualification stages next season.
Real Madrid’s last match saw them defeated 2-1 in the Copa del Rey final by city rivals Atletico.
The Santiago Bernabeu outfit had not lost to Atletico in any competition since 1999 but the underdogs snapped a 14-year drought with an excellent performance.
They trailed after an early Cristiano Ronaldo goal, but Diego Costa’s first-half strike forced a crazy period of extra time.
Atletico scored the winner after 98 minutes through Koke, as referee Carlos Clos sent off two players – Ronaldo and Atletico’s Gabi – and gave yellow cards to another 11 players in a tense clash.
It followed Real Madrid’s exit from the UEFA Champions League, which saw them edged 4-3 on aggregate by Borussia Dortmund in the semi-finals, and with manager Jose Mourinho set to leave his post, it seems as if an era in Madrid is coming to an end.
A 1-1 draw to Espanyol preceded the Copa del Rey final, meaning Madrid have not won in over a fortnight, with their last success being a 6-2 thrashing of Malaga.
Portuguese star Ronaldo has netted 34 league goals for Real Madrid this season, second only to Barcelona’s Lionel Messi (46), and has 10 in his last nine La Liga fixtures.
With the match so crucial for Sociedad’s hopes of finishing fourth, a terrific atmosphere is expected at Estadio Municipal de Anoeta.
Sociedad have been in excellent form since November, and without any cup or continental distractions, Philippe Montanier’s side have lost just two of their last 27 La Liga fixtures.
Of those two defeats, one came at Real Madrid in January, as Ronaldo bagged a double in a 4-3 thriller.
Key to Sociedad’s run has been the form of forward duo Carlos Vela and Agirretxe, who have netted 14 and 13 La Liga goals respectively this season.
They will be without Frenchman Montanier – who has agreed a deal to coach Rennes next season – for the 2013-14 campaign and in his last home game, Sociedad are sure to be up for a fight against a Real Madrid side simply looking forward to the season’s end.