The pressure is on Real Madrid coach Santiago Solari when his side entertains Real Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Sunday.

Although Solari saw Madrid win the Club World Cup just before Christmas, the truth is they were hardly stretched by facing Japan's Kashima Antlers in their semifinal before defeating the United Arab Emirates' Al Ain 4-1 to retain the title.

They were brought straight back down to earth on Thursday with a 2-2 draw away to Villarreal, with another disappointing Liga Santander performance and although the fans in the Bernabeu will be shown their latest trophy ahead of Sunday's game, they are more likely to have Thursday's disappointment fresher in their minds.

The draw leaves Real Madrid seven points behind league leaders FC Barcelona and desperately needing all three points in order to stop the title once again slipping away from them before the season is halfway through.

Solari defended himself in his Saturday press conference, stressing that under his guidance Madrid had climbed from ninth to fourth in the classification and insisting that his players "are not machines" and it is "hard to play a game every three days."

That may be the case and Thursday saw Gareth Bale suffer another injury, the 22nd of his Real Madrid career, but another disappointing display would leave Madrid all-but out of the title race and with Jose Mourinho recently sacked by Manchester United, it would certainly increase speculation of a return for the Portuguese.

Real Sociedad travel south with Imanol Alguacil starting his second spell as first team coach after replacing Asier Garitano who was sacked just before Christmas.

The former B-team boss had a brief buy successful last season as a replacement of Eusebio Sacristan.

Imanol will be without first choice goalkeeper Miguel Angel Moya and striker Sandro due to physical problems and Geronimo Rulli, who lost his place to Moya earlier in the season after a series of high-profile errors, will be in goal at the Bernabeu as 'la Real' look for their fifth away win of the campaign.