Real Sociedad’s quest for a second Copa del Rey crown in three seasons continues with the visit of Real Betis to the Reale Arena for Thursday’s quarter-final.
Imanol Alguacil’s men entered the winter break on the back of a goalless draw with Getafe in La Liga, while the visitors eased to a 4-1 win over Espanyol.
Real Sociedad’s unbeaten start to 2022 is still intact, but ending a three-game winning streak against the 16th-placed side in the division did not see Alguacil’s men enter the international break with the wind in their sails, as they were restricted to just nine attempts on the day.
Despite boasting 70% of the ball on their own turf, Sociedad could not find a way through the steadfast Getafe defence as their patchy La Liga form continued, with the White and Blues now rank outsiders when it comes to the battle for Champions League football.
Scoring goals has certainly not been an issue for the 2020 Copa del Rey winners in this season’s edition, though, with the hosts bagging 12 goals across their four victories in the tournament so far, most recently seeing off La Liga champions Atletico Madrid 2-0.
The clean sheet versus Getafe made it three shut-outs in a row for Sociedad as the race for top-four spots hots up, and Alguacil may already have one eye on the impending Europa League showdown with RB Leipzig, but a spot in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey will be a welcome boost.
Furthermore, not since November 2017 have Sociedad lost a Copa del Rey encounter on their own turf, and they have scored at least two goals in each of their last seven at home in the competition, but surprise package Betis are harbouring silverware dreams of their own.
While Sociedad were busy being goal-shy, Real Betis were scoring at will, as Manuel Pellegrini witnessed his crop of Champions League hopefuls hit Espanyol for four just before the mid-season break.
Borja Iglesias was on target twice for Betis, who also struck through Guido Rodriguez and Willian Jose after Espanyol had broken the deadlock through Raul de Tomas, who went from hero to zero for his side as he was sent off in the dying embers.
Still holding off the threat of Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, a first appearance in the Champions League since the 2005-06 season is firmly within reach for Pellegrini’s men, who ended the month of January with three wins on the bounce across all competitions.
Pellegrini’s side had to do it the hard way against Sevilla to make it to the quarters of the Copa del Rey for the second season running, but they were knocked out in the last eight by Athletic Bilbao last year and have only progressed further than the quarter-finals once since they last lifted the trophy in 2005.
Sociedad’s strong home streak in the Copa del Rey is one thing, but Betis enter the quarter-final having won their last six in the tournament away from home, and they thumped Alguacil’s men 4-0 during their most recent battle back in December.
Real Sociedad Copa del Rey form:
Real Sociedad form (all competitions):
Real Betis Copa del Rey form:
Real Betis form (all competitions):
y: Real Sociedad 3-2 Real Betis (a.e.t)
This should be a truly fascinating battle between a Sociedad team renowned for their Copa del Rey successes at home and a Betis side – albeit a depleted one – who produce the goods on unfamiliar territory in this competition.
Alguacil’s men will fancy their chances with Betis looking light in midfield and will be determined to avenge their 4-0 thrashing from several weeks ago, so we can see a thrilling tie going the hosts’ way after extra time.