Estadio Camp Nou, Barcelona
Saturday, 28 November, 2015, 1500 GMT
Spanish champions FC Barcelona will look to extend their lead at the top of La Liga when they host a rejuvenated Real Sociedad side at the Camp Nou on Saturday.
Luis Enrique’s Barcelona side reasserted their title credentials after crushing bitter rivals Real Madrid 4-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu last Saturday in the season’s first Clasico. Goals from Luis Suarez (2), Neymar and Andres Iniesta condemned the Los Blancos to successive defeats in the league and sent the Catalans 4 points clear of Atletico Madrid at the top of the table.
Real Sociedad have endured a turbulent start their 2015-16 league campaign. Former manager David Moyes was sacked 3 weeks ago after Sociedad fell to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of La Liga new boys Las Palmas. The result left them 2 points off the bottom of the table. Former Barcelona assistant Eusebio Sacristan was appointed in place of David Moyes and has since guided Sociedad to a 2-0 win over Sevilla at the Anoeta. The Erreala currently occupy 14th position in the La Liga table.
Team News and Tactics
FC Barcelona received a huge shot in the arm after Lionel Messi returned to action last week against Real Madrid after recovering from a knee ligament injury. He came on as a substitute in the 2nd half in the Clasico and helped create the 4th goal scored by Suarez. Messi also started midweek in the Champions League and scored a brace in Barcelona’s 6-1 demolition of AS Roma. He will line up alongside Suarez and Neymar upfront against Sociedad.
La Masia product Sergi Roberto, who put in an impressive showing in the Clasico, is expected to miss out against Sociedad after sustaining an ankle injury following a clash with Roma midfielder William Vainqueur. Andres Iniesta and Javier Mascherano, who sat out Barcelona’s midweek European clash against Roma, are expected to return to the starting lineup. Ivan Rakitic and Sergio Busquets will complete the midfield trio.
At the back, Gerard Pique will continue his central defensive partnership with Argentine Javier Mascherano. Jordi Alba and Dani Alves are expected to occupy the full back roles. Claudio Bravo will replace Marc Andre ter-Stegen in goal.
Probable Starting XI (4-3-3): Bravo; Alba, Mascherano, Alves, Pique; Busquets, Iniesta, Rakitic; Suarez, Neymar, Messi.
Newly appointed Eusebio Sacristan has instilled belief into his squad following the departure of David Moyes and will be hoping for a major upset as his side make a daunting trip to the home of the La Liga champions on Saturday.
Eusebio will be without the services of former Real Madrid midfielder Asier Illarramendi after he picked up his fifth booking of the season in last week’s 2-0 win over Sevilla. He will serve a one match suspension as a result.
Brazilian striker Jonathas and Spanish midfielder David Zurutuza are long term absentees for Sociedad due to injury and will miss out against Barcelona at the weekend.
However, Eusebio will be boosted by the possible return of Alain Oyarzun, Oier Olazabal and Raul Navas to the Real Sociedad squad after the trio failed to feature against Sevilla last week.
The form of Imanol Agirretxe will be crucial to Sociedad’s hopes of getting anything out of their match against Barcelona. The inform striker has netted each time in his last 4 appearances for the club.
Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Rulli; Gonzalez, Martinez, Berchiche, Elustondo; Pardo, Bergara; Bruma, Prieto, Canales, Agirretxe.
- Barcelona have won their last 17 La Liga games at Camp Nou against Real Sociedad, keeping ten clean sheets in that streak.
- Real Sociedad have defeated Bar a fewer than any other side with 68+ games against them away from home.
- Bar elona have won their last five league games, scoring an average of 3.4 goals per game and conceding just 0.6.
- The Blaugranas have gone 13 home league games without a loss (W12 D1), their best run with a single manager since 2012/2013 under Vilanova (19).
- Only Real Madrid (321) have made more crosses than Real Sociedad (317) in La Liga this season.
- Agirretxe is just one goal away to match his record away from home in a La Liga season (six in 2012/13).
- Messi has scored eight goals against Real Sociedad a joint-low for those sides with 10+ appearances against him (alongside Villarreal).
Player to watch out for:
Luis Suarez (Barcelona)
The Uruguayan sensation Luis Suarez is in the form of his life. After putting in a stellar performance against Real Madrid in the Clasico last week, El Pistolero grabbed another brace against Roma in midweek as Barcelona tore the Italians apart. Suarez, along with Neymar, took up the mantle to guide Barcelona to the top of La Liga in the absence of Lionel Messi.
Arguably the deadliest striker in the world at the moment, Suarez will be looking to continue his goal scoring exploits against a leaky Sociedad defence. Expect him to get on the scoresheet at least once against Eusebio Sacrsitan’s men.
FC Barcelona 4 – 1 Real Sociedad
After plundering 10 goals against Real Madrid and AS Roma in their last two outings, Luis Enrique’s Barcelona side will be smelling blood when Real Sociedad come calling. The deadly trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar will be looking to get on the score sheet and add to their tallies in the race to become the Pichichi this season.
The in form Imanol Agirretxe will be a threat on the counter and may grab a goal against the Catalans. However, an imperious Barcelona will coast to a comfortable home win by brushing aside the challenge of a mid table Real Sociedad side.