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The Young Team Taking Spain by Storm

While the big clubs in La Liga have been plagued by inconsistency, one team has taken full advantage of the situation. Real Sociedad finds itself embroiled in a fierce battle for top spot in Spain’s elite division, but La Real’s sudden ascent to the summit is no fluke—this has been brewing for some time.

The Kids Are Alright

Sociedad’s success is built on shrewd recruitment and a ludicrous talent pipeline linking the club’s academy with its first team. This season, Txuri-urdinak boast 16 youth products on their roster and the third-youngest squad in La Liga overall. Even manager Imanol Alguacil is a former La Real player himself, and he made his name coaching the reserves, a task now overseen by none other than Xabi Alonso.

Local hero Mikel Oyarzabal, undoubtedly the team’s most valuable player and its captain (at just 23!), has been a Sociedad supporter for as long as he can remember, and he currently tops the league’s scoring charts with seven goals, ahead of the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez.

La Real has also made a habit of giving former prodigies a new lease on life. Adnan Januzaj, Mikel Merino, and Alexander Isak, who has scored 18 goals since joining from Dortmund, have all found a new home in San Sebastián. This expertly assembled, exciting squad is supplemented by the experience of Nacho Monreal and the ageless David Silva.

Trusting the Process

Since coach Alguacil took over in December of 2018, Real Sociedad has been a club on the up. Last season, with the help of Real Madrid loanee Martin Ødegaard, Txuri-urdinak valiantly fought for a Champions League spot but fell just short, finishing sixth. They did reach the final of the Copa del Rey, though, where they would have faced Basque rivals Athletic Club, but the game had to be postponed due to COVID-19 and will likely be played in April, almost a full year after it was originally set to take place.

This time around, La Real has recorded its best start to a season since its historic title-winning campaign of 1981/82. A good omen? Perhaps, but it will be a tough challenge to keep up this momentum while also juggling Europa League duties. Even if its form does tail off, Real Sociedad will remain one of the most electrifying teams in La Liga, thanks to its free-flowing football, savvy business, and connection to the local community.


Illustration by @inakivector.

This story was featured in one of our newsletters.