Ranking Barcelona's 5 best players against Real Sociedad | La Liga 2021-22

Real Sociedad v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander
Real Sociedad v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander
Sushan Chakraborty

Barcelona made the trip to the Reale Arena for their La Liga clash against Real Sociedad on Thursday night (21 April). Xavi's team were desperate to bounce back from their shock defeat to Cadiz on Monday (18 April).

Sociedad, who had not conceded in their last seven league home games, made life difficult for the Blaugrana, but ultimately succumbed to a 1-0 defeat. Barca’s winter signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored the only goal of the match to help his side return to winning ways.

Imanol Alguacil's team started the game brightly, not allowing Barcelona to settle on the ball. However, the visitors eventually got the hang of the situation and started playing through and around Sociedad’s relentless pressing.

In the 11th minute, Ousmane Dembele found himself in space inside the opposition box and decided to have a go at the Sociedad goal. His side-footed effort slammed against the crossbar, but Barca kept the attack alive through Gavi. The Spaniard then fed the ball to Ferran Torres who effortlessly set up Aubameyang’s decisive goal.

Alves: "Real Madrid is lucky that we arrived late."

Five minutes later, fellow winter signing Torres had an opportunity to double Barcelona’s tally, but his effort lacked poise as it drifted wide of the target. Barca came close once again just before the half-hour mark, with Frenkie de Jong going for the spectacular from a long way out. His teasing strike narrowly missed Alex Remiro’s goal. Torres and Aubameyang had a couple more opportunities to extend Barcelona’s lead in the first half, but their efforts were not on target.

Early in the second half, Alexander Sorloth missed a golden opportunity to draw Sociedad level, somehow fluffing his effort from six yards out. Ten minutes later, Sorloth once again found himself in an inviting position, but Marc-Andre ter Stegen was equal to the task and snuffed out the danger. With just over a quarter of an hour left to play, Gavi got the chance to kill the game. Unfortunately, his finish was wayward and did not trouble the Socidedad keeper.

Four minutes into added time, the home team appealed for a penalty, but the VAR squashed the hosts’ handball claims, sealing a memorable win for Xavi’s side. It was a nervy affair, but Barca more than did enough to secure all three points. They are currently second in the La Liga standings, 15 points adrift of league leaders Real Madrid with a game in hand. Read Sociedad, meanwhile, are sixth with 55 points from 33 games, six points behind fourth-placed Atletico Madrid.

Here are five players who helped Barca ace a tough test at Sociedad on Thursday night:

#5 Gerard Pique

Real Sociedad v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander
Real Sociedad v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander

Veteran defender Gerard Pique showed last night that there is still plenty of top-level football left in him.

Despite losing his partner Ronald Araujo to an injury in the second half and picking up a knock himself, Pique produced an uncompromising performance. The 35-year-old won most of his duels, cleared dangerous balls, and also impressed with his distribution.

Xavi on Gerard Pique🗣️"He has had these niggles for two or three months, but this week will have helped him, this adrenaline suits him. Despite these niggles, he is a leader and a vital footballer since I arrived."

The Spaniard won six of his nine duels, made six clearances, and attempted three tackles at Anoeta.

In terms of distribution, he played 25 accurate passes with 80.6 percent accuracy and saw four of his long balls reach their intended destinations.

#4 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Real Sociedad v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander
Real Sociedad v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander

Former Arsenal skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang once again produced the goods for his current employers.

In the 11th minute, Aubameyang was picked out at the far post by Ferran Torres. The Gabon international adjudged the flight of the cross and comfortably headed home to break the deadlock.

🔥 @Auba has scored 8️⃣ goals in 8️⃣ La Liga starts for Barcelona this season. Lethal. 🦇🎯

The 32-year-old had the opportunity to double his tally in the 39th minute, but could not keep his shot on target.

Despite finding the back of the net, the Gabonese had a rather sub-par game, making only 13 passes, registering no key passes, and losing all of his duels.

But at the end of the day, it was his strike that sealed the three points for Barca, which, in our books, is all that matters.

#3 Sergio Busquets

FC Barcelona v Eintracht Frankfurt: Quarter Final Leg Two - UEFA Europa League
FC Barcelona v Eintracht Frankfurt: Quarter Final Leg Two - UEFA Europa League

Barcelona skipper Sergio Busquets once again showed why he starts almost every game for the Catalan giants.

He shielded his defense rather well, sprayed passes in all directions, and helped his team beat the home team’s relentless pressing.

📊| Sergio Busquets vs Real Sociedad.• 75 Touches.• 47/56 Passes.• 1 Long Ball.• 1 Key Pass.• Just Once Dispossessed.• 2 Tackles.• 3 Clearances.• 2 Headed Clearances.• 2 Interceptions.• 8/11 Duels Won.• 3/3 Aerials Won.• 9 Ball Recoveries.• 3 Fouls Won.

The 33-year-old completed 47 passes with 83.9 percent accuracy, created a goalscoring opportunity, and won 11 of his 14 duels at Anoeta.

The Spaniard also drew three fouls, won two of his five tackles and registered nine recoveries.

It was another solid outing from Busquets.

#2 Marc-Andre ter Stegen

FC Barcelona v Eintracht Frankfurt: Quarter Final Leg Two - UEFA Europa League
FC Barcelona v Eintracht Frankfurt: Quarter Final Leg Two - UEFA Europa League

Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen did not have much to do in the first half as the visitors thoroughly dominated proceedings.

In the second half, it was the German’s tenacity kept Sociedad at bay, ensuring maximum returns for the Catalan giants.

Xavi: “Ter Stegen is very important to me. He's a leader, he dominates with his feet - for me he's one of the best goalkeepers in the world”. 🇩🇪 #FCBBarcelona will trust ter Stegen also for next season. He’s never been in doubt for Xavi: key part of the project.

Over the course of the 90, the 29-year-old made five saves, with two of them coming from inside the box. He also made a high claim, accurately delivered seven long balls and registered two clearances.

The save he made to deny Sorloth in the second half was a big reason behind Barca returning home with all three points.

#1 Frenkie de Jong

Real Sociedad v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander
Real Sociedad v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander

Former Ajax man Frenkie de Jong was heavily criticized for his sub-par outing against Cadiz on Sunday.

Last night, he produced one of his season’s best performances to silence his critics for good. The Dutchman was superb in his distribution, controlled the tempo effortlessly, and regularly popped up in dangerous areas, keeping Sociedad on their toes all night.

Frenkie de Jong for Barcelona vs. Real Sociedad:◉= Most duels won (11)◉= Most chances created (3)◉= Most aerial duels won (3)◉= Most shots (3)◉ Most tackles won (3)◉= Most take-ons (2)Putting in a shift. 🏃‍♂️

Against the Basque outfit, the Netherlands international completed 43 passes with 93.5% accuracy, made three key passes, and won 11 of his 14 duels.

He also attempted a 25-yard long-ranger, which very narrowly missed Remiro’s goal.

Also Read: Real Sociedad 0-1 Barcelona: 5 talking points as Xavi's men clinch a nervy win | La Liga 2021-22

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Edited by Samya Majumdar


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