Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Real Sociedad v Real Madrid: Carvajal hoping to cope without Benzema and Ronaldo

SoccerNews in La Liga 28 Apr 2016


Dani Carvajal is attempting to look at the bigger picture with Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo struggling with injuries ahead of Real Madrid’s La Liga trip to Real Sociedad on Saturday.

The Portugal international has missed his team’s last two matches – including the 0-0 Champions League semi-final first-leg draw against Manchester City – with a thigh problem and is still rated “day-to-day” to make the return match on Wednesday.

Benzema had been deemed fit to play after a knee problem for the match at City, but was replaced at half-time and will, like Ronaldo, be held back from the trip to Anoeta in a bid to make the second leg.

With three La Liga games to go, Madrid sit one point behind Barcelona and Atletico Madrid at the top of the table as part of a thrilling title race.

But they will have to cope without two of their starting forwards and Jese Rodriguez (knock) is also a fitness doubt, putting huge pressure on the likes of Gareth Bale and Lucas Vazquez to deliver.

“Ronaldo had a niggle and he preferred not to play [at City] given everything that lies ahead,” said Carvajal.

“We have got a big squad – Lucas came in and he put in a more than worthy performance. 

“Cristiano is very strong, with a very good physical make-up and he will be fit for the return leg. I hope that he and Benzema are available because they are very important.”

Hosts Sociedad have had huge success against Barcelona, winning five and drawing two of their last seven home meetings against the leaders, including a 1-0 triumph in April that blew the title race wide open.

But Eusebio Sacristan’s men have not been so successful against the other half of Spain’s big two, winning just one of their previous 17 La Liga games against Real Madrid, losing 13.

In-form Madrid have won nine La Liga games in a row, which is their best run since 2014 when they won 12 in succession under Carlo Ancelotti.

Goalkeeper Keylor Navas stressed the importance of the club’s strength in depth at a crucial stage of the campaign in both of their competitions.

“Everyone in the squad knows that we have been working towards these games for a long time,” he said.

“They have all shown that when they are given an opportunity, they go out there and give it their all.”

Sociedad are 11th in the table, two points behind Valencia in eighth and three clear of Deportivo La Coruna in 14th, with the final three games set to have a massive influence on their final position.


Key Opta stats:

– Away from home, Real Madrid have not lost any of their last nine league games (W6 D3), scoring an average of 2.33 goals per game.
– Madrid are the team with the most seasons scoring 100 or more goals (eight) in the top five European leagues. 
– Real Sociedad have scored each of their last six league goals in the first half of their games. 
– Gareth Bale has scored more headed goals than any other player in the top five European leagues this season (eight).
– Danilo has been involved in more La Liga goals than any other defender (two goals and five assists) this season.
– Xabi Prieto has scored more goals against Real Madrid than against any other La Liga side (nine).



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