Real Sociedad vs Real Madrid Fighting for Champions League spot
Mikel Oyarzabal is certain that a victory against Real Madrid would be the ideal way for Real Sociedad to bounce back after their bad start after the return of LaLiga Santander and look towards Champions League qualification again.
The No.10 is aware, however, that it’ll be an extremely tough test against Los Blancos, especially with the successful returns of Eden Hazard and Marcos Asensio.
La Real suffered a surprise defeat in Vitoria against Alaves and the team are low on morale after losing their Champions League spot. How do you see things going?
The truth is that it’s not been the best start and we’re struggling a little, but there’s no better way to make up for it all and turn the situation around than beating a Real Madrid team that’s battling for the title. Getting three points would put us right back in the mix at the top.
Real Sociedad-Real Madrid is always a big game, even more so now with both teams near the top of the table…
Yes, it’s always a great game that stands out. As a player you like to play against these kinds of team who are fighting for things in Europe, not just in the league, and we want to perform well and keep in touch with the teams at the top.
Does an empty Reale Arena take away a lot from the match?
Of course, the game does lose something, because the supporters play such an important role in football, they’re part of the whole show. The matches have lost a bit of their edge without the fans in the stands, it isn’t the same, but we have to adapt to the situation we find ourselves in and good results depend on us being able to adapt, but at the same time we’re hoping that it won’t be long before we start to see people in the stadiums again.
They’re fighting for the title, and you’re fighting for the Champions League.
I think it’s going to be a well-balanced and entertaining game. All of the games right now are difficult, especially against an opponent of this quality. The key will be to take advantage of moments when they take their foot off the gas, because it’s difficult to go at full tilt for 90 minutes, and taking advantage of those moments in which we are most comfortable to grab a goal will help us get the three points. In terms of our objective, just like the last game against Vigo when we moved into the Europa League place, this is one of the most exciting run-ins I’ve been a part of and hopefully we can manage to get that Champions League spot.
What have you thought of Madrid this season?
I think they’ve been a little hit and miss this season, even though they’ve been fighting for the league which is a sign that they’ve been doing well. This season we’ve seen both sides of the coin, seeing how they beat us in the league and we knocked them out of the Cup, although we had to really fight hard to hold on and get to the semis. However, we saw that we’re capable of hurting them, and that if we do things right, we can beat anyone. That’s the mentality that we have at the moment.
Do you expect them to arrive a little angry after you knocked them out of the Copa del Rey?
I think any time a team beats you, you have it out for them a little but in the next match. You want to beat them, and above all, play well, because if you didn’t win before it’s because you didn’t play as well as you should have. I don’t think it’s anything more than a desire to win, though, because they’re used to playing big games in Europe.
They’ve got Hazard and Asensio back. What does this mean for the game?
Everyone has got players back that were injured before, some more than others, but it’s positive for everyone and makes for a better game, although it affects us now because we’re going to be facing up against one of the best players in the world like Hazard, who can really make a difference. We’ve already seen that if he’s at the top of his game, he’s very difficult to stop, but we have to just focus on ourselves and how we can hurt them like we know we can and try to push the game to our favour.
You yourself are one of the hardest players to stop in LaLiga Santander with nine goals and six assists so far.
On a personal level I’m really happy. My contribution is helping the team challenge at the top for some really exciting things and that gives me a lot of satisfaction. If in the end those goals don’t go towards getting victories and points on the board, then you can’t really enjoy them.
You’re on 49 goals for La Real. Is the 50th going to come in this game?
It’s a special milestone, and would be even more special if it helped us get a win. Fifty goals with La Real isn’t something a lot of people can say they’ve done, and I’m really happy with it, but I want to keep playing, scoring and winning with this team. I want to keep improving and growing.