In the eighth finals of the Copa del Rey, the Basque clubs Real Sociedad and Osasuna face each other in the Reale Arena in San Sebastian. It promises to be an exciting cup match, because both teams are working on a strong season.
Real Sociedad is working on its best season in years, and has two irons in the fire in the battle for European football. In LaLiga the blue and white are in a nice sixth place, a place that is good for participating in the Europa League at the end of the season. Also in the Copa del Rey the team of coach Imanol Alguacil impresses, with convincing victories over Becerril (0-8), Ceuta (0-4) and Espanyol (2-0). Osasuna-home is the next hurdle on the way to glory in the Spanish cup tournament.
Real Sociedad is doing well, although it is currently rumbling in the Reale Arena. Club top scorer Willian Jose is in the emphatic interest of Tottenham Hotspur, and therefore did a Bergwijntje last week by signing off as an amateur for the cup match against Espanyol. Trainer Imanol Alguacil was of course not happy with that and kept the Brazilian last weekend in the home match against Real Mallorca (3-0) outside the match selection. “I don’t want to make this bigger than it is, but I refuse to keep my ears on the whims of certain players,” said Iguacil. ‘I only want to work with players who are proud to wear the Real Sociedad shirt. That is all I have to say about it. ” The winter transfer period is not over yet, so there is a good chance that Willian Jose will also shine in her absence on Wednesday evening. In addition, his replacement Alexander Isak played a very strong match, and the former striker of Willem II could count on a standing ovation from the Real Sociedad supporter. The expectation is that Real Sociedad will play with a mix of basic players and reserves on Wednesday evening, even though key players like Mikel Oyarzabal and Martin Ødegaard were just kicking off in the previous round.
Osasuna can also look back on a great first half of the season. With a provisional tenth place, the club from Pamplona is in the left row after 21 rounds of play in LaLiga, something that few PhD students can say. Success in the Copa del Rey could mean the figurative cherry on the cake, although last week the red shirts in the eighth finals needed an extension to shake off the third-division team Recreativo Huelva.
Still, I fear that Osasuna will face a tough second half of the season. The Basques won 2-0 against Levante last weekend, but saw star player Chimy Avila fall away with a serious knee injury. The Argentinian striker made his major breakthrough this season with nine goals in twenty league matches and was, according to the Spanish rumor circuit, even close to a move to FC Barcelona. His loss caused major problems for coach Jagoba Arrasate, as Osasuna had hardly any scoring ability outside midfielders Ruben Garcia and Roberto Torres. On top of that, they usually get a rest in the Copa del Rey, since the competition has priority. Just like the home club, the visitors are also expected to appear on Wednesday evening with a combination of basic players and reserves.