Tactical Report: Why Real Sociedad Are Sitting Top of La Liga

By Daniel Muñoz

28-October-2020 on Users

11 minute read

Daniel Muñoz has been a tactical analyst at Real Betis for the last few seasons, working under Quique Setién, Joan Francesc “Rubi” and Manuel Pellegrini.

 

Today, he starts collaborating with Nacsport to help us discover more about the teams that everyone is talking about.

 

In his first article, Daniel focusses on Spain’s Real Sociedad. What has changed at the club to turn them from journeymen into current La Liga leaders? Let’s find out...

 

Note: This article was originally written in Spanish by professional analyst Daniel Muñoz and translated to English. As such, pictures are captioned in Spanish and the translation is provided below in italics.

At the time of publication, Real Sociedad are sitting pretty at the top of the league for the second week running after a streak of four consecutive victories (three in La Liga and one in the Europa League).

 

Their current run of form looks like this:

03/10/20 - La Liga Match 5 - Real Sociedad 3 - 0 Getafe

18/10/20 - La Liga Match 6 - Real Betis 0 - 3 Real Sociedad

22/10/20 - La Liga Match 1 - Europa League HNK Rijeka 0 - 1 Real Sociedad

25/10/20 - La Liga Match 7 - Real Sociedad 4 - 1 SD Huesca

Sociedad’s manager, Imanol Alguacil, has been faithful to his promise of taking the bull by the horns and playing an attacking game with mobility and verticality. For this reason, they are one of the most attractive teams to watch at the moment. Let’s take a look at some of the key points which make this true.

 

Real sociedad 1

 

Formation

 

Theoretically, their game system is a hybrid in that when on the attack they play in a 4-3-3 whilst in defense, reorganise into a 4-4-2

 

We say theoretically because, when the game gets going, it’s clear that the formation is nothing more than the position from which the players start. When the game gets underway, the mobility and movement of the players makes a mockery of any attempt to sketch a line up.

 

It’s a play style that promotes hard work but is not rigid, it’s also easily adaptable to any opposition’s play style.

Attack and Possession

 

Real Sociedad have a devastating forward line and, not surprisingly, they are the highest goal scorers in La Liga at the moment with 14 goals from 7 games. This is 4 more than Atletico Madrid who are second highest.

 

The positioning at the start of any play is critical. This allows them to find a free man and push up with a third. The presence of goalkeeper, Remiro, can’t be understated as play often starts right at the back with him, making him a foundation for success.

 

Real Sociedad 2

 

Goalkeeper, Remiro, plays a huge part in getting the attack started at the back

 

Real Sociedad are not afraid of the long ball when necessary.

 

Real Sociedad 3

 

Alternating between short and long balls with lots of movement to create space

 

They create superiority in midfield by hustling for position between opposition lines, always looking for space and always trying to leave at least three passing options to get the attack started.

 

Real Sociedad 4

 

Looking for the free man from defense to midfield

 

Real Sociedad 5

 

Formation between opposition lines to create numerical superiority

 

Once they get into the opposition half, the mobility of their attack really shines through.

 

Typically, this will manifest itself with the wingers pushing up and an accumulation of players on the inside. This allows them to be in charge of the centre of the pitch whilst pulling the opposition inside to cover, simultaneously creating space on the wings. 

 

The ball is played wide, the central players push into the box and, just like that, they are in a goalscoring position.

 

Real Sociedad 6

 

Players accumulated in the centre to create space out wide

 

Real Sociedad 7

 

Presence in the area

 

In offensive transitions, they have no hesitation in running at the opponent if they get the chance. Having forwards with speed and quality decision making, they can easily penalise an opponent’s mistakes.

 

The quality and creativity of Real Sociedad’s forward line is unlimited when approaching the opposition’s goal area. They have a huge variety of tools at their disposal, from generating chances from outside the area with long crosses to finding the through ball to the forwards from the edge of the box, always manipulating and occasionally breaking the other team.

 

Real Sociedad 8

 

Quality players between the lines ready to turn and attack the defense

 

Real Sociedad 9

 

Specialists in attacking space

 

Defensive Courage

 

Real Sociedad like to defend in their opponents half. They prefer to go hunting for the ball and gain possession far away from their own goal mouth. And so far, they have had great success with this ploy.

 

Real Sociedad 10

 

Pressure from 4-4-2

 

Starting with a 4-4-2 defensive structure, the pressure they apply on an opponent’s goal kick varies depending on the players in the line-up, for example, if Portu is playing or not.

 

Real Sociedad 11

 

High pressure with Portu attacking the midfield and Gorosabel in the mid zone

 

Before tracking back, the prefer to apply pressure with one of their midfield men such as Silva, whose profile is aimed towards defending at the front.

 

Real Sociedad 12

 

Silva defending from the front

 

This is not a team that is particularly comfortable falling back, nor with long periods off the ball. At the first opportunity, they try to advance forward and have no qualms about individual defensive battles.

 

Real Sociedad 13

 

Brave enough to take up arms in individual battles

 

Their defensive transitions are quick and effective. When they lose the ball, they rapidly change their positioning with the aim of recovering possession as soon as possible.

 

Real Sociedad 14

 

 Pressure after losing ball

 

The Secrets of Sociedad’s Success

 

• Belief in their game model and identity.


• Every player gives their all to the game.


• A playstyle that matches the profile of their players.


• Sports academy, Zubieta, provides the foundation of their play and there are a large number of homegrown players in the first team who have been through the academy system and have grown up with these ideas.

 

So there you have it, some of the key points on why Real Sociedad are doing so well this season, let's see if they can keep up this run of form until the end of the season.

 

We'd like to thank Daniel Muñoz for his fantastic anaylsis and look forward to the next installment. This report was made using Nacsport and illustrated with KlipDraw. To download a FREE Nacsport trial, click on the link below.

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