Jordi Alba and Frenkie de Jong made the difference as Barcelona came from behind to beat Real Sociedad 2-1 at Camp Nou on Wednesday.
Barcelona dominated the early exchanges, but did not manage to make much of it as each of their initial efforts went wide. Their wastefulness would come back to haunt them as Real Sociedad went ahead against the run of play midway through the first half, when Willian Jose scored from close range by meeting Portu’s cut-back.
Barcelona, though, hit back almost instantly, with Jordi Alba producing a peach of a finish from his weaker foot after pouncing on a loose ball. The hosts continued to impose themselves thereafter and duly went ahead just ahead of half-time, as Frenkie de Jong tapped in Alba’s cross from the left to make it 2-1.
Both teams had plenty of chances in the second half to trouble the scorers, but the score remained 2-1 in Barcelona’s favour, as they grabbed a big win at Camp Nou over the league leaders. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Ronald Koeman’s men.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 8/10
Not the kind of start to the game he would have envisioned, but ter Stegen could not have done anything to deny Willian Jose from point-blank range. Otherwise, though, the Barcelona no. 1 was in his elements, making a couple of huge saves to keep his side’s noses in front. As always, precise in distribution.
Sergino Dest: 7/10
Starting yet another game at right-back, Dest produced another solid display. The teenager carried a great deal of threat while moving forward, occupying the spaces left clear by Antoine Griezmann. Created a fine chance for Pedri, but the youngster headed over. At the back, he dealt with the threat of Portu quite smartly.
Ronald Araujo: 7/10
Barcelona had a young central defensive partnership on Wednesday and Araujo donned the leadership hat with aplomb. Willian Jose did not have a lot of joy against him apart from the moment when he scored. Relished having more responsibility, which bodes well for Barcelona.
Oscar Mingueza: 8/10
Back into the starting lineup, this was a fantastic performance by young Oscar Mingueza, who was once again accomplished in his display at the back. Engaged in a duel with Adnan Januzaj at times and came out on top. Like Araujo, showed some fine leadership skills but would have been frustrated at being unable to complete the game.
Jordi Alba: 8/10
6 – @FCBarcelona's Jordi Alba 🇪🇸 has been directly involved in more goals than any other @LaLigaEN defender this season in all competitions (6, 1 goal and 5 assists). Critical. pic.twitter.com/TA2BRhfjxl
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) December 16, 2020
Alba has blown hot and cold so far this season, but this performance against Real Sociedad was right out the top drawer. While he was not at his best defensively and was helped out by Mingueza a great deal, Alba made all the difference going forward. The Spanish international first equalised by producing a magnificent finish with his right foot before setting Frenkie de Jong up for the winner.
Back into the starting lineup, Pedri was everywhere whenever Barcelona charged forward. The 18-year-old should have done better to convert Dest’s cross but otherwise, he was in his elements, creating a couple of brilliant openings that were not converted. The only other blemish for him was his hesitancy leading up to Willian Jose’s goal.
Sergio Busquets: 7/10
Starting at the base of the midfield, Busquets was typically unassuming in his display. Did more than enough to ensure that Real Sociedad hardly got on top of Barcelona in the middle of the park while moving the ball precisely without much of a fuss. Taken off for Carles Alena as a means to preserve his energy.
Frenkie de Jong: 8/10
The ever-present in the Barcelona midfield, de Jong pulled the strings effortlessly against Real Sociedad. Looked to advance forward more on Wednesday and that outlook eventually yielded a goal when he converted Alba’s cross. Continues to grow in stature at Camp Nou.
2 – Frenkie de Jong 🇳🇱 has been involved in two goals in his last two appearances in @LaLigaEN (1 goal and 1 assist), as many has he had in his previous 35 matches for @FCBarcelona in the competition. Smile. pic.twitter.com/nTqTgCNNd1
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) December 16, 2020
Antoine Griezmann: 7/10
Stationed on the right wing, Griezmann had plenty of opportunities to find the back of the net on Wednesday. However, it just was not to be for the Frenchman, who struck the woodwork, had a shot saved by the brilliant Alex Remiro and inexplicably failed to convert from point-blank range. A frustrating night’s work, but quite promising that he found himself in scoring positions.
Lionel Messi: 7.5/10
Leading the line for Barcelona, Messi dropped deep quite a bit on Wednesday. This outlook, though, opened up space for the players around him, with Griezmann in particular deriving a lot of joy higher up the pitch. Did have two chances coming his way, but was wasteful and failed to convert.
Martin Braithwaite: 7/10
Starting on the left side of the Barcelona attack, Braithwaite was involved a great deal, linking up superbly with Messi, Griezmann and Pedri. Also had a couple of chances being set up for him, but he strangely missed from close range. However, his movement helped Alba a lot on the left wing.
Francisco Trincao: 7/10
On for Griezmann, Trincao posed a lot of threat from the right flank, but his end product needs to be polished if he is to become a regular. Linked up superbly with the players around him, though.
Carles Alena: 6/10
Alena replaced Busquets but struggled to assert his authority in the middle of the park and made a few basic errors as well.
Miralem Pjanic: N/A
Given the final 15 minutes, Pjanic helped see the game out.
Clement Lenglet: N/A
A late introduction in place of the injured Mingueza, Lenglet helped see the game out without much of a fuss.