Real Madrid are in a position where dropping points would prove costly let alone a defeat. Before the meg-clash against the neighbours Atletico Madrid, a victory against Real Sociedad was much-needed. Sadly, the Los Blancos dropped points and at one point it seemed, they would lose until Vinicius Junior stepped up to salvage the face-saving draw.

Despite avoiding defeat, it is a result that leaves Los Blancos further behind in the title race after league leaders Atletico Madrid won over the weekend, making for a five-point gap going into next week’s Madrid derby.

Zidane made just one change from the team that triumphed in its last outing in Champions League action last week against Atalanta, with Mariano coming in for Vinicius in the attack, meaning Isco received a second consecutive start.

Zidane persisted with the 4-3-3 formation against Real Sociedad’s switch to 4-2-3-1 from 4-3-3.

After Sociedad’s European outing in Manchester, Imanol Alguacil opts for four changes – Monreal and Le Normand came in at the back, while further forward David Silva and Portu were the other two additions to the starting eleven.

Real Madrid had won 10 of their last 11 home matches against Sociedad in La Liga, including three wins in three home games against them under Zidane – scoring an average of 3.7 goals per game.

Real Madrid, in between, were one victory away from equaling their best winning streak in La Liga this season – they won their first five games in December – while they are enjoying their best streak of games without conceding this season in the competition – three, going 312 minutes without conceding since a goal by Javi Galan for Huesca.

As the match commenced, it appeared that Real Madrid were playing with a 4-3-1-2 formation – Modric sitting behind Mariano and Isco, who are acting as split strikers up top.

Sociedad pressed higher up the pitch and the backline of Real Madrid started to melt – dispossess Ferland Mendy deep inside the half. Monreal went venturing forward after a short passage of play but opts to, rather sensibly, play backward in the end. A few minutes later, Monreal got bundled over in the area after latching onto an Oyarzabal pass, but the offside flag was up.

After the opening ten minutes, the Real Madrid backline started to settle down.

Lucas Vazquez found space, while La Real were advancing forward and reached the byline crossing towards the far post where Isco mistimed his run – the possession fell to the feet of Casemiro and La Real discovered that it was tricky to get out of their own half.

Vazquez made another run down the right a few minutes later before crossing towards the head of Isco, who miscued his effort slightly, and that allowed the ball to trickle into the hands of Remiro.

Casemiro joined the center-backs and which allowed Mendy to advance forward – the cross from the left put La Real in sorts of trouble but Asensio was on his heels and couldn’t capitalize at the back post.

Toni Kroos went deep and Modric advanced forward as he produced a right-footed effort at the La Real area.

Real Madrid showed their authority over the ball from side to side and appeared content to remain patient in their build-up play. The ball was on the feet of the players at the center of the park, who neatly passed it to the flanks.

Sadly, the cutting-edge upfront was hugely missing.

Mariano’s effort hit the bat off a razor-sharp cross from Vazquez and then Asensio missed one courtesy of a weak volley from the set-piece.

Isco made a run from the center of the park and opted to pass to his right instead of shooting from range. Casemiro was in space, took one touch, and unleashed a low, driven right-footed shot towards the bottom left corner, and it was not enough.

Mendy latched onto a diagonal pass before playing to Isco, who rolled in Kroos with his first touch, who made it into the area to the left of goal but his left-footed effort was saved by the feet of Remiro.

Just before the break, Modric rolled one through the legs of Zubimendi and weighed up his crossing options inside the area. Instead of passing, however, Modric opted to whip a right-footed effort from the edge of the area towards the far post, where Remiro parried away to safety.

It was a dominating first half by the hosts and much more was expected after the break.

After a fairly dominant first 45 minutes from the hosts’ point of view, Zidane opted to switch to a formation with three center-backs. It proved counteractive for his team, with Ferland Mendy’s more advanced position causing them to leak a goal to Cristian Portu. The formation was changed after just 15 minutes of the second half.

Portu’s opening goal was his third in his last eight appearances in LaLiga Santander. The Spaniard gave Mendy a tough evening at Valdebebas and didn’t stop running until an injury forced him off in the second half.

After clean sheets against Getafe, Valencia, Real Valladolid, and Atalanta, Thibaut Courtois conceded his first goal in five games when Portu’s header found a way in. The hosts still didn’t give away many clear chances, though.

But the change of shape certainly disturbed the rhythm and with time running out for the Los Blancos, Zidane decided to substitute Mariano and Asensio – Vinicius Junior, Hugo, Fede Valverde, and Rodrygo Goes were summoned.

Real Madrid worked a set-piece short to Vazquez, who picked out the head of Casemiro inside the area. Despite being inside the six-yard box, Casemiro somehow managed to head wide to the left of the goal.

Duro dragged himself towards the far post, getting on the end of Vinicius’ cross, which he could only head wide of the target from a fairly tight angle.

The La Real penalty arena was busy but  Remiro brought some calm to the situation by diving on it before Duro could capitalize inside the six-yard box. Initially, Rodrygo had scuffed his shot and then Le Normand made a mess of his right-footed clearance to add to the confusion.

Rodrygo and Vinicius added pace, Duro injected a bit more intent while Valverde gave the composure; still, the game looked lost.

With just a minute left for the normal time to finish, Vazquez – the continuous threat last night, ventured a run to the byline and orchestrated a low cross to the front post where Duro miscued, but Vinicius was behind his fellow substitute, however, to turn home with his right foot into the bottom left corner.

Certainly, the right-foot of Vinicius came to play and rescued the hosts.

“I changed it because I wasn’t happy with our pressing,” Zidane told the media after the match.

“It was those 10-15 minutes and we changed it again and we were better playing a 4-3-3. Our substitutes did well after coming on. If you’ve asked me and that’s now three times, then yes, maybe.”

“We had to change things because, after an hour, the team was a bit tired. Sometimes we have to change things.”

“In the end, you try to find things to change the dynamic.”

With Atletico Madrid slipping up against Levante, Zidane missed the opportunity to gain some ground on their league-leading rivals.


At least, the consolation was that Real Madrid did not lose the full points, but earned one point.

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