However, it was Barcelona who came up on top in this highly entertaining game and in the process, broke their Anoeta curse, a ground they had not won a game for the last ten years.
With chances coming by few and far between, it was Neymar’s 21st-minute penalty which separated the two sides. While the two teams were evenly matched, with neither goalkeeper particularly busy, Barca held on in relative comfort, without Jasper Cillessen having a major save to make.
Barcelona, who will be looking forward to win a third consecutive Copa crown, are now in a strong position to progress ahead of the second leg at Camp Nou next Thursday.
Let's take a look at the player ratings from this match:
Geronimo Rulli: 6.5/10
Rulli was solid throughout the match and effective when called upon. However, he was sent in the wrong direction for Neymar’s penalty which was otherwise well placed.
Aritz Elustondo: 5/10
This was not a match he would like to remember as he was beaten quite often by Neymar and also gave away the penalty. Additionally, he was also disappointing in attack but that is understandable as he was pitched against Neymar.
Inigo Martinez: 8/10
A solid performance for the centre-back, he kept Suarez well in check for the entire duration of the match. Apart from that, he played the ball well out of his defence.
Raul Navas: 7/10
Like his centre back partner, Navas too gave a solid performance at the heart of La Real’s defence. He was shaky on the ball sometimes and could have scored an own goal as he misplaced a pass to his goalkeeper.
The left back was full of energy and was Sociedad’s best player on the pitch. He owned the left flank for Sociedad, whether it was in defence or in attack.
Xabi Prieto: 7/10
This was not a flashy performance for the Spanish midfielder, however, it was an effective one. He dispossessed Barcelona’s midfielders quite a few times and used the ball efficiently.
Asier Illaramendi: 7.5/10
Illaramendi put in a good display by the former Real Madrid player in the midfield as he screened his defence well and also distributed the ball intelligently.
Like his partner in the middle of the ball, he too was solid defensively while looking effective on the few occasions he pushed forward.
Mikel Oyarzabal: 5.5/10
Though he started well, he faded as the match wore on. He did not trouble Roberto much, thus letting the makeshift right back’s day easy.
Carlos Vela: 5/10
This was a game to forget for the Mexican, who has been La Real’s best player this season. He struggled to cause too many problems and his final passes were poor.
Willian Jose: 6/10
Up against Spanish international Gerard Pique, he held up the ball well and showed a good range of distribution. But the service to him was not good enough as he struggled to make a major impact.
Sergi Canales: 4/10
He was a late substitution and did not have enough time to make a significant contribution.
Juanmi replaced Vela but could not affect the game much. His only highlights were in his hair.
David Concha: 4/10
Replaced Willian Jose and was ineffective in what was a quiet cameo.
Jasper Cillessen: 6/10
Rarely troubled between the sticks, he played mostly like a sweeper focused on sending out balls that beat Real Sociedad's first line of pressure. He did look shaky once or twice but was otherwise reliable and did well.
Sergi Roberto: 6/10
This was a typical Sergi Roberto performance Barcelona fans have become accustomed to. Solid in defence and supporting the attack well, he played mostly as another midfielder.
Gerrard Pique: 8/10
He was a calming presence at the heart of the defence and kept La Real’s attackers at bay. He kept things simple and dominated in the air.
Samuel Umtiti: 6.5/10
The Frenchman started the game in a shaky manner and even gave the ball away just outside his own box. However, he did grow as the match wore on and kept Real Sociedad at bay.
Lucas Digne: 7/10
Deputising for Jordi Alba, Digne did well when called upon. Aainst Carlos Vela, Sociedad’s most dangerous player, he did a commendable job in keeping him quiet.
Sergio Busquets: 7/10
This was a regular Sergio Busquets performance - he cleaned up the midfield and started attacks from deep. Although he did have a few risky moments, but was otherwise quite solid.
Andres Iniesta: 7.5/10
He was taken off at half-time for Andre Gomes, probably due to an injury scare. However, after his departure Barcelona lost control of the match. His passing was quite accurate and intelligent while he was on the pitch.
Ivan Rakitic: 5/10
Luis Enrique’s lack of trust in him showed in his performance. He was quite lacklustre and, quite uncharacteristically, misplaced quite a few passes.
Lionel Messi: 7/10
It was a game of two halves for Barcelona’s talisman. He was quite a nuisance for Sociedad’s defence in the first half but was largely anonymous in the second period. He played with fire the entire match after being booked in the first half.
Neymar was the best of the front three for Barcelona. He won and scored a penalty in the first half but was booked for simulation after the referee thought he went down quite easy in the second half.
Luis Suarez: 5.5/10
Suarez could not get on the scoresheet in this match in what was quite a lacklustre performance from the forward. His work-rate was commendable, though as pressed the opposition’s defence and stretched the play.
Andre Gomes: 6/10
Coming on at half-time for Andres Iniesta, he mixed some really good passes with some really bad ones. A decent performance, overall.
Denis Suarez: 6/10
Replace Rakitic in the 69th minute, Suarez did a tidy job in whatever time he got on the pitch.Published 20 Jan 2017, 08:06 IST