Off To A Flying Start
Up until matchday 27, played in March 2020, Real Sociedad’s performance improved on that of its previous seasons. Only once in their previous 13 seasons had the Basque side collected more points at this stage of the competition (48 in 2017/18) and only in one of their previous 17 seasons they had conceded fewer goals (32 in the 2018/19).
Real Sociedad Points After 27 Games - LaLiga
At this stage in the season, only Barcelona (18) and Real Madrid (16) had won more games than Sociedad (14) in LaLiga and only these sides had scored more goals (Barcelona 63, Real Madrid 49) than the Basque team (45).
Real Sociedad were one of the best teams in attack. Seven teams had taken more total shots after the opening 27 matchdays in LaLiga than Real Sociedad (312) but the txuri-urdin had the third-best shot conversion rate (14.4%), after Barcelona (18.3%) and Valencia (15.4%).
At this stage of the season, Real Sociedad were one of only five teams with a positive difference between goals and expected goals (xG), highlighting their clinical goal-scoring edge.
xG Differential Up To LaLiga Matchday 27
LaLiga’s Stoppage Slows Real Sociedad’s Momentum
But Real Sociedad performances dropped significantly after LaLiga restarted in June. They only scored 11 goals in the last 11 matchdays (fewer than 12 other teams in the competition) and their shot conversion rate dropped to 9.4%.
After the restart of LaLiga, Real Sociedad’s attacking averages dropped across the board. One of their goals next season will be to improve the consistency of their offensive output.
Sociedad Pre v Post Lockdown Form
|Period||Games Played||Goals||Goals/Game||Total Shots||Shots/Game||Shots On Target||Shots On Target/Game|
Stats Perform Verdict: Evolution Required
Huge Dependence On Mikel Oyarzabal
Mikel Oyarzabal was a key piece for Real Sociedad in LaLiga last year. He was involved in 21 goals this season (10 goals and 11 assists), more than in any other LaLiga term. Only one Spanish player was involved in more goals in LaLiga 2019/20 than Mikel Oyarzabal (Villarreal’s Gerard Moreno: 23, 18 goals and 5 assists).
Oyarzabal’s role was important in the opening 27 LaLiga 2019/20 matchdays but it was especially key after the competition restarted. The Basque player was involved in 14 of Real Sociedad’s 45 goals in the first 27 MD (31.1%) and in seven of the 11 Real Sociedad’s goals post-lockdown 11 matchdays this season (63.6%).
Indeed, since LaLiga restarted in June, only Lionel Messi provided more assists (9) than Mikel Oyarzabal (5). It is clear that while the performances of his teammates dropped off considerably post-lockdown, Oyarzabal stood up to be counted.
But will Oyarzabal be able to replicate these numbers next season or will Real Sociedad have to look for other resources? Only Messi had a bigger positive difference between his assists and expected assists (xA) in LaLiga 2019/20, suggesting Oyarzabal has his teammates to thank for some excellent finishing that boosted his assist numbers. With that said, Oyarzabal maintaining this level of goal involvement will be key for Real Sociedad.
LaLiga - Expected Assists Differential
|Player||Assists||Expected Assists||Assists - xA|
Stats Perform Verdict: Evolution Required
Dealing With The Loss of Martin Ødegaard
Martin Ødegaard has been an important piece in Real Sociedad this season. How will the Basque team deal with his departure?
Ødegaard scored four goals and provided six assists in LaLiga 2019/20. Aside from Oyarzabal, Ødegaard was Sociedad’s chief creator and ball progressor. His 0.14 expected assists per 90 led the team, and he was involved in 40 chance creating carriers, the fourth highest in the entire league.
Not only this but he attempted 221 passes into the final third (only Mikel Merino attempted more belong the Real Sociedad’s players).
Real Sociedad signed David Silva over the summer with the Spaniard returning to LaLiga ten years after his move to Manchester City. He may be the Ødegaard replacement in the Basque side. Silva has provided at least seven assists in each of his 10 seasons in Premier League and Sociedad will be hoping that there a few years left in the legs of the diminutive Spaniard.
David Silva All Time Premier League Stats
|Season||Goals||Assists||Passes Into Final Third|
Stats Perform Verdict: Revolution Required
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