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Real Sociedad 1-1 Barcelona (2-3 on penalties): 5 Talking Points as Blaugrana progress to final | Supercopa de Espana 2020-21 

Real Sociedad and Barcelona in the semifinal of the 2020-21 Spanish Super Cup
Real Sociedad and Barcelona in the semifinal of the 2020-21 Spanish Super Cup
Ume Elvis
ANALYST
Modified 14 Jan 2021, 08:12 IST
Top 5 / Top 10
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Barcelona needed penalties to see off Real Sociedad in the first semifinal of the 2020-21 Spanish Super Cup.

The tournament was initially scheduled to take place in Saudi Arabia, but travel restrictions owing to the COVID-19 pandemic meant the Spanish authorities had to find a different venue.

The Estadio Nuevo Arcangel in Cordoba was chosen as the venue for the clash between Barcelona and Real Sociedad, while Real Madrid will trade tackles with Athletic Bilbao at the Rosaleda in Malaga.

Poor weather conditions in Spain saw both sides undergo logistical nightmares to make it to their venue, but they shrugged that off to put out what was a true spectacle.

The big news in the buildup to the clash was the absence of Barcelona skipper Lionel Messi, who was left out of the team list entirely. The Argentina international had signalled to the bench that he wanted to be taken off in Barcelona's last clash against Granada, so his absence might have been related to that.

Beyond the absence of Messi, Ronald Koeman made two other changes from the Barcelona side that recorded the convincing victory in Andalusia. Ronald Araujo and Clement Lenglet came into the defence at the expense of Sergino Dest and Samuel Umtiti.

The Blaugrana have been on a fine run of form of late and started the game on the front foot, forcing Sociedad deeper into their half, although the Basque outfit showed little attacking intent.

Barcelona fashioned several chances in the opening minutes, and it came as no surprise when they went ahead through Frenkie de Jong in the 39th minute.

Antoine Griezmann found himself in space on the left flank, and the France international delivered a teasing cross into the box which de Jong finished with a looping header to put Barcelona in front.

That sparked La Real into life, and they fashioned two good chances right before the break.

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They equalised five minutes into the second half when Frenkie de Jong was adjudged to have handled in the area, and the VAR upheld the referee's decision.

Sociedad captain Mikel Oyarzabal stepped up and made no mistake from the spot, sending Ter Stegen the wrong way to restore parity.

Both sides fashioned several chances in the remainder of the game in an entertaining end-to-end clash, but neither side could get the all-important second goal to avoid extra-time.

It was more of the same in the extra period, with Antoine Griezmann forcing a great point-blank save off Alex Remiro, while Adnan Januzaj hit the post from a 20-yard free-kick.

Eventually, penalties were required to separate the sides, and Barcelona narrowly edged out the White and Blue 3-2 to secure their place in the final next weekend.

Barcelona will face the winner of the other semi-final between Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao on Thursday. On that note, let us have a look at the five talking points from the game.


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#5 Barcelona get an opportunity to start the year by winning a trophy

Ronald Koeman has an opportunity to win his first trophy with Barcelona.
Ronald Koeman has an opportunity to win his first trophy with Barcelona.

The year 2020 was one to forget for Barcelona, as they ended it on a trophyless note, the first time they did so since 2008.

However, the Blaugrana got an opportunity to participate in the expanded Super Cup by virtue of their second-place finish in the La Liga last season.

Their narrow victory over Real Sociedad offers them an opportunity to end their 20-month wait for a trophy on Sunday.


#4 Penalty shootout misery for Real Sociedad

Real Sociedad missed their first three penalties against Barcelona.
Real Sociedad missed their first three penalties against Barcelona.

It is an oft-repeated saying that a penalty shootout is a lottery, but there was nothing excusable about the poor start Sociedad made in the shootout.

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In what was a shocking start, La Real missed their first three spot-kicks, with Jon Bautista, Oyazarbal and Willian Jose all missing before Januzaj and Mikel Merino found success,

Incidentally, Bautista was brought on for Joseba Zaldua ostensibly for his ability from the spot, but the 25-year-old set a poor precedent for others to follow.

Up next stepped captain Oyarzabal to take advantage of Frenkie de Jong's miss, with the 23-year-old's record from the spot a heartening one.

His second-half penalty meant he had scored his last 15 penalties in all competitions, which is more than what any other La Liga player had managed since 2015-16.

However, Ter Stegen dived low to his right to deny Oyarzabal.

Willian Jose hit the post next after Ousmane Dembele had scored, but in remarkable scenes, Griezmann blazed over when he had the chance to win it for Barcelona.

Even though Real Sociedad converted their last two penalties, the damage had already been done, and they can only blame themselves for their missed opportunity.

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Published 14 Jan 2021, 08:12 IST
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