It was the 2002-03 season in La Liga that witnessed one of the most dramatic ends to the race for the title. And more interesting was the fact that it was not between Real Madrid and Barcelona or Valencia but between Real Madrid and Real Sociedad. Till the penultimate game, the club from the Basque region of Spain was leading the table by a single point and everything was left to the final game that saw Sociedad losing their game against Celta Vigo while Real Madrid defeated their cross city rivals to snatch the title. Such was the influence of this Basque outfit on La Liga during that season, that it also saw two of its strikers, Kahveci and Kovacevic, climbing up to the third and fourth spot among the top goal scorers in that season. But afterwards, the club was lost in the doldrums and after few seasons, got relegated to second division.
After a decade, again this club has risen from its ashes to glory. Sitting at the fourth place in the La Liga table with 58 points from 33 games and clear off the fifth place by a margin of 5 points with as many matches to go, they are all set to taste success in terms of Champions League qualification. This gap might not be unassailable but definitely large enough to make the teams catching up, to panic in their crucial fixtures and this can very well lead to Sociedad’s advantage.
In the remaining fixtures, they have to face Getafe and Sevilla away from their home and clearly these games can no way be treated as easy ones as these teams are strong enough at their home to pull off a surprise. Furthermore, their home game against Real Madrid will be their toughest encounter. They however, can have some breather against the relegation threatening sides of Granada and resurgent Deportivo La Coruna. If things go well, they can get 8-10 points from these games and that will be enough for them to qualify for the Champions League.
Playing only in their third season after promotion to the first division, this is an astounding feat to achieve. Not only that, they were able to impress and receive plaudits from football experts for their style of play. Boasting of some good quality forwards like Imanol Agirretxe, Carlos Vela and Antoine Griezmann, with some quality midfielders of the likes of Chory Castro and Xabi Prieto in support, they can be a real treat to watch if they qualify for next year’s Champions League. Also, if they are able to hold on to their star players and with the money received from Champions League qualification, they can bring in some good defenders and give the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona a run for their money in the upcoming seasons.
Let’s hope the renaissance of this team under head coach Montanier continues and they are able to see their lost glory days again.