Real Sociedad, PSG’s next Challenge in Champions League

Photo of Real Sociedad team gear up to face psg in champions league.

PSG face Real Sociedad in the last 16 of the Champions League. The Parisians will have to be wary of the Basques, a solid and playful team. As regulars in the last 16 of the Champions League, Paris Saint-Germain were nonetheless wary of the possible opponents (Manchester City, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Atlético de Madrid in particular) before the draw was made on Monday lunchtime in Nyon (Switzerland). In the end, PSG were drawn against Real Sociedad, the ‘Little Thumbs Up’ at this level of the competition.

Nevertheless, the French team remains vigilant. Captain Marquinhos promptly noted that Real Sociedad claimed the top spot in their group, outperforming Inter Milan with three wins and three draws. Emphasizing the opponent’s current strength, he stressed, “They’re in excellent form,” underlining the importance of comprehensive preparation. Club president Nasser al-Khelaïfi echoed these views, conveying admiration for Real Sociedad as an impressive club with an outstanding team and a chairman who has excelled in his role.

A spirited team

So, how is this Spanish side progressing, and which specific players will demand close attention from Luis Enrique’s squad? Philippe Montanier, the former coach of Real Sociedad (2011-2013), highlights the team’s dynamic nature: “It’s a possession-based game in a classic 4-3-3 formation. Real Sociedad operates as a cohesive unit with sustained activity, stressing teamwork in both defensive and offensive aspects, where every player plays a role.

La Real embraces an energetic style, consistently employing high-pressure strategies to disrupt their opponents. They prioritize speed, movement, and aggression. Since 2020, the Basque team has consistently secured top-6 finishes in its league. They enjoy ball possession and demonstrate adept control. Their technical expertise equips them to match the intensity of the Champions League.”

Noteworthy contributors to the team include Mikel Merino, Mikel Oyarzabal, and Martín Zubimendi, as well as the Japanese talent Takefusa Kubo, former Rennes captain Hamari Traoré, and the French defender and Spanish international Robin Le Normand. Oyarzabal, who operates on the left wing, showcases exceptional technical abilities and proficiency in front of the goal.

His seven goals in the current league season underscore his skill. During his most prolific season in 2018-2019, he scored 13 times in La Liga. The Parisian squad has been put on notice. Luis Enrique’s team, therefore, needs to exercise caution and not underestimate the current sixth-placed team in La Liga, which demonstrates an impressive level of play.

Real Sociedad is characterized by their robust defense and distinctive team identity. Having conceded only two goals in six Champions League group matches and experiencing minimal losses in La Liga against formidable opponents like Atlético Madrid, Real Madrid, and FC Barcelona, they pose a significant challenge. The defensive duo of Le Normand and Zubeldia proves to be a formidable obstacle. Key elements include stability and a focus on youth development, as highlighted by Philippe Montanier.

Under Coach Imanol Alguacil’s guidance since 2018, the team maintains a resilient identity and consistently performs well. The emphasis on promoting Cantera (youth academy) players to the first team underscores the club’s enduring principles. Despite evolving player eligibility criteria, the club’s identity remains unwavering.

Yet, Real Sociedad faces a potential vulnerability due to their relative inexperience at this competition stage. Since 2004, they haven’t advanced to the Champions League last 16, a fact underscored by Philippe Montanier. Despite their impressive track record, he underscores the significance of experience at this elite level. Furthermore, he suggests that the individual brilliance of PSG’s players, such as Mbappé, Ousmane Dembelé, and Gonzalo Ramos, may prevail over Real Sociedad’s collective approach. The unfolding of these dynamics will be revealed in the upcoming clashes scheduled for February and March.


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