The Basques are third after Barça and Real Madrid: the coach and half the team are homegrown
It could have been worse, but also much better. Nyon’s urn has not been kind to José Mourinho’s Roma: in the round of 16 of the Europa League, the Giallorossi will face Real Sociedad. Compared to the playoffs with Salzburg therefore, for the Special One his men the level of difficulty of the knockout challenge rises further. Currently the Basques are third in the standings in Liga Santander – behind Barcelona and Real Madrid – with 43 points, the result of 13 wins 4 draws and 5 defeats. In the cup, on the other hand, the team led by Imanol Alguacil, thanks to qualifying for the round of 16 from first in the standings, obviously took advantage of a “rest session” skipping the playoffs.
In the Europa League they finished group E in first place with 15 points – the same obtained by Manchester United – thanks to a one-goal difference on goal difference. In fact, in the two matches with the English, the Basques achieved a 1-0 away victory and a 1-0 defeat at home. Apart from the knockout with the Red Devils, Alguacil’s men won all the other matches in the group, played against the Moldavian side Sheriff and the Cypriot side Omonoia Leukōsias.
The secret of Real Sociedad’s recent fortunes has a name and a surname. Imanol Alguacil. Which for Basque fans is an institution. Born and raised in football at the San Sebastian club – both on the pitch and on the bench – he is the main architect of the success in the Copa del Rey achieved in April 2021: a victory that allowed the management to reopen a bulletin board that had been closed in the last 34 years .
On the field, the most representative man is undoubtedly David Silva, former pillar of Manchester City and of the most successful Spanish national team ever, who at 37 continues to be a protagonist in his homeland: there are 20 seasonal appearances totaled by the class of ’86, embellished from 2 goals and 4 assists. The other talent capable of igniting a game is captain Mikel Oyarzabal: left wing born in ’97, after returning mid-season from a serious injury, he has already scored 2 goals and 1 assist in his first 8 post-injury appearances. The name of Umar Sadiq also stands out in the Basque squad, a former Giallorossi striker launched in Serie A by Rudi Garcia, currently out due to breaking his ACL in September.
How it plays
Imanol often shuffles cards, but basically starts with a 4-3-2-1. In front of the posts defended by Remiro, the coach relies on the central duo made up of Zubeldia and Le Normand, with Barrenetxea and Rico full-backs with a license to push. In the middle to keep the keys to the Basque game is Zubimendi with Merino and Brais Méndez (author of 10 goals since the beginning of the season) midfielders. In attack instead, the Japanese Kubo and one between Kubo (or Silva) and Oyarzabal alternate behind the Norwegian giant Sørloth.
(4-3-2-1) Remiro; Barrenetxea, Zubeldia, Le Normand, Rico; Mendes, Zubimendi, Merino; Kubo, Oyarzabal; Sørloth
February 24, 2023 (change February 24, 2023 | 15:13)
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