This is a historic season for Vardar as they are the first team from Macedonia that qualify for the Europa League group stages. Vardar played solid at home in the European qualifications this season. The Macedonian champions managed to win three games at home, two in the qualifications for the Champions League and one for UEFA Europe League. First they beat 3:1 Malmo, then won 1:0 against FC Kopenhagen and finally beat Fenerbahce with 2:0 in Skopje. However, the first match in the group stage finished with a catastrophe. The Red & Blacks were heavily beaten by Russian side Zenit St Petersburg in Skopje. The match ended with 5:0. In the second round Vardar lost 3:1 to Norvegian side Rosenborg in Trondheim. So, Vardar suffered two defeats in the first two rounds of Group L and conceded eight goals. The question is why? I will try to explain this. First of all, the players are inexperienced. As I previously wrote, this is the first time that some club from Macedonia qualified for the group stages in Europe. But there is more - after the elimination from FC Kopenhagen in the Champions League, coach Goce Sedlovski resigned. Shortly after that, just before the match with Fenerbahce, owner Sergey Samsonenko announced his withdrawal from the club at the end of the season. Finally, the best striker Jonathan Balotelli left the club and joined Al Ahli.
Real Sociedad have three points after the first two rounds. The Spanish outfit managed to beat Rosenborg at home, but lost to Zenit St Petersburg in Russia. The domestic form is mixed, however they managed to beat Deportivo Alaves with 2:0 on Saturday. Mikel Oyarzabal and Aritz Elustondo secured the victory with their goals. That was the first match in the last period in which Sociedad didn't concede in La Liga. Previously they conceded four goals from Betis, three goals from Valencia, Levante and Real Madrid. The fact they received 13 goals in four matches indicates the defensive issues. Coach Eusebio Sacristian decided to make some changes, so six players stayed at home - defenders Carlos Martinez and Alvaro Odriozola, midfielders David Zurutuza and Jon Guridi, as well as strikers Juanmi and Agirretxe.
Vardar vs Real Sociedad Preview:
I expect Vardar to play much better in this match. Of course, there is a class difference between Vardar and Real Sociedad. The guests arrived in Skopje without some important players and I think Vardar will cover the handicap.
Vardar vs Real Sociedad Pick: Vardar +1.75 AH