While the big clubs in La Liga have been plagued by inconsistency recently, one team has taken full advantage of the situation. Real Sociedad finished the 2020/21 season in 5th position, qualifying for the Europa League. La Real’s sudden ascent to the summit is no fluke. This has been brewing for some time.
Real Sociedad Kids Are Alright
Real Sociedad’s success is built on shrewd recruitment and a ludicrous talent pipeline linking its academy with its first team. This season, Txuri-urdinak boasts 16 youth products on their roster and is the third-youngest squad in La Liga overall.
Even manager Imanol Alguacil is a former La Real player himself, and he made his name coaching the reserves, a task now overseen by none other than Xabi Alonso.
Local hero Mikel Oyarzabal, undoubtedly the team’s most valuable player and its captain (at just 23!). He has been a Real Sociedad supporter for as long as he can remember. In the first fours games this season, he has scored four goals. In 2020/21, he finished with 11 goals in 30 starts.
La Real has also made a habit of giving former prodigies a new lease on life. Adnan Januzaj, Mikel Merino, and Alexander Isak, who scored 26 goals since joining from Borussia Dortmund, have all found a new home in San Sebastián.
This expertly assembled, exciting roster is supplemented by the experience of Nacho Monreal, ageless David Silva, and Australian World Cup goalkeeper Matt Ryan.
Trusting The Process
Since coach Alguacil took over in December of 2018, Real Sociedad has been a club on the up. In the last two seasons, with the help of Real Madrid loanee Martin Ødegaard, Txuri-urdinak bravely fought for a Champions League spot but fell just short, finishing sixth and fifth.
However, they did reach the final of the Copa del Rey, where they defeated Basque rivals Athletic Club 1-0.
Real Sociedad has recorded its best start to a season this season since its historic title-winning campaign of 1981/82. A good omen? Perhaps, but it will be a tough challenge to keep up this momentum while also juggling Europa League duties.
However, even if its form does tail off, Real Sociedad will remain one of the most electrifying teams in La Liga, thanks to its free-flowing football, savvy business, and connection to the local community.
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Rhett is an Australian-born, globe trotter who is a UEFA ‘A’ Licence Soccer Coach. With his family, he has traveled and coached soccer in more than 30 countries, while attending World Cups, European Championships, and some of the biggest local derbies in the world!