Barcelona enter the game at the Anoeta this weekend against Real Sociedad, six points clear at the top. With around seven games in the season left, the Catalans will look to maintain the gap at the top of the table while their Basque opponents, languishing in mid table, will only hope to do enough to finish the season in the top half. Having had their 39 match unbeaten streak broken in the most spectacular fashion at the hands of arch rivals Real Madrid, Luis Enrique’s men will be looking to re-establish the winning habit.
Kickoff and Live Telecast
Channel: Sony ESPN
Date and Time: 10th April, 2016; 12:00 A.M. IST
Venue: Anoeta Stadium
Real Sociedad have trouble looming on their heads with many key players missing. Yuri and Inigo Martinez, key cogs in the team’s defense are suspended and injured respectively. Meanwhile, top scorer Imanol Agirretxe is also missing through injury and so too are Sergio Canales and Raul Navas. However, they do have Asier Illaramendi and Carlos Vela available and will hope that they are at their best this weekend.
Having made their position at the top of the league table comfortable and the shadow of the second leg against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League midweek looming large, it won’t be too surprising to see Luis Enrique ring in a few changes. The likes of Sergi Roberto and Arda Turan seem likely to be recalled into the starting eleven. Aleix Vidal is back into contention for a start having missed the last game through injury. The likes of Jeremy Mathieu, Adriano and Sandro Ramirez remain out of contention with injuries.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Bravo; Roberto, Pique, Mascherano, Alba; Turan, Busquets, Rafinha; Messi, El Haddadi, Neymar
Real Sociedad (4-3-3): Rulli; Zaldua, Elustondo, Reyes, Bella; Xabi Prieto, Ruben Pardo, Illarramendi; Oyarzabal, Vela, Zurutuza
Eusebio Sacristan’s men have little momentum to bank upon when they enter the Anoeta with Barcelona in front of them. Sociedad have had one of their most inconsistent seasons with most of their results sandwiched between losses and draws. With just ten points separating them and relegation zone, the idea will be to build on their excellent win against Sevilla last week and get a result against what is set to be a slightly less potent Barcelona side.
Last 5 Matches: L-D-L-L-W ( Last Match: Sevilla 1-2 Real Sociedad)
Barcelona enter the game having lost their 39-match unbeaten streak losing El Classico to Real Madrid who had come in with every plan to stop Barcelona’s celestial forward line and executing it to perfection. In midweek, a Suarez brace took Barcelona into pole position to progress to the semi-finals of the Champions League with the return leg set in at the Calderon. Aside from that, Barcelona has been in top form home and away and will look to solidify their position at the top of the table and keep their league intact when the leave the Anoeta this weekend.
Last 5 Matches: W-W-D-L-W (Last Match: Barcelona 2-1 Atletico Madrid)
- Barcelona are undefeated in their last 11 away matches in La Liga
- Real Sociedad are undefeated at home against Barcelona in their last 6 home games in all competitions
- Barcelona have scored at least 2 goals in their last 7 away matches
- Under 2.5 goals have been scored in Real Sociedad’s last 3 home games in La Liga
Carlos Vela vs Jordi Alba
Carlos Vela has had an off season by his standards. With only 4 goals and 4 assists to his name, many would believe Carlos Vela could have done much better this season. That doesn’t, however, change the notion that he is one of the better players in this Real Sociedad side and on his day, Vela is a game changer.
Vela will need to be at his best if Real Sociedad are to stand a chance against the Blaugrana with Jordi Alba set to be his prime opponent. The ex-Arsenal man will hope to take advantage of any slight space left behind by the Spanish International as Jordi Alba looks to nullify the Mexican to the best of his ability. This should make for a feisty contest.
Xabi Prieto vs Sergi Roberto
Xabi Prieto has played his part in some memorable results for Real Sociedad when they have faced the Blaugrana over the years. He has been immense for the Basque side in seasons past and even though he has had an inconsistent season this time around, you wouldn’t find it out of place for him to show up in this game in particular.
He will, however, have to come up against Sergi Roberto in the part of the pitch he operates and will have to keep Roberto in check. In addition, Prieto will hope to gang up on him with teammate Zurutuza. This particular battle could be quite important to the outcome of the game.
Real Sociedad have had some great results against Barcelona in the past and still possess a decent home record in recent times. With Barcelona probably not sending in their best side to face the Basque team, you could expect Real Sociedad to get a result out of this game. A hard fought draw.
Real Sociedad 2-2 BarcelonaPublished 09 Apr 2016, 14:08 IST