Ferran Torres and Frenkie de Jong stood out, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made the difference as Barcelona beat Real Sociedad 1-0 on Thursday.

Real Sociedad started the game strongly, with Alexander Isak almost pressing Marc-Andre ter Stegen into trouble. But Barcelona soon wrested control over the proceedings before breaking the deadlock through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who nodded in Ferran Torres’s clever lobbed pass.

Barcelona then had a few more chances to add to their advantage, but Aubameyang and Frenkie de Jong failed to find the target. And Real Sociedad had the opportunity to get back on level terms just before half-time, only for Isak to miscue his shot when one-on-one against ter Stegen.

The hosts retained control for most of the second half, but Alexander Sorloth spurned two golden opportunities to find the back of the net. Barcelona somehow held on till the 73rd minute before finally carving out an opening, only for Gavi to narrowly miss the target.

In the end, neither side was in the mood to score another goal, as Barcelona held on to the slender one-goal advantage to grab all three points. The result helps theΒ Blaugrana move six points clear of fifth-placed Real Betis, with a game in hand. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Xavi Hernandez’s men.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 7.5/10

Marc-Andre ter Stegen endured a nervy start as Alexander Isak nearly pressed him into trouble in the early exchanges. The German international produced an assured performance otherwise, making several big saves to preserve his clean sheet and help Barcelona grab all three points.

Dani Alves: 5/10

After recovering from a minor issue, Alves returned to the side but struggled to cope with Adnan Januzaj’s threat. The former Manchester United attacker gave Alves many worrisome moments, with the veteran also losing possession carelessly plenty of times (18). A bigger concern for Xavi would be over the injury he picked up in the second half.

Ronald Araujo: 7/10

Araujo blew hot and cold before going off injured in the 55th minute, although he had to cover a lot of ground for Alves. The Uruguayan international made numerous crucial clearances (six) while winning four duels. But he should have covered his marker better on a couple of occasions.

Gerard Pique: 7.5/10

Pique’s return gave Barcelona some sense of security at the back, even though Real Sociedad had plenty of chances to score. But the veteran defender made several notable contributions, including six clearances and three tackles. But Pique endured a few nervy moments against the hosts’ counter-press, giving the ball away carelessly at times.

Jordi Alba: 5.5/10

Alba endured a testing game against Real Sociedad as he barely carried a threat in the final third and lost possession a staggering 22 times. The veteran left-back also looked in trouble several times in the defensive phases and failed to track his man on a few occasions. He needs to do better.

Gavi: 7/10

Gavi was instrumental in the build-up to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goal as he recycled possession after Ousmane Dembele had smashed the woodwork before finding Ferran Torres, who lobbed the ball for the striker. He also had a great chance to score but could not find the target with his rushed effort. But Gavi also had some sloppy moments on the ball, giving it away 16 times.

Sergio Busquets: 7/10

Busquets was a reassuring presence in the middle of the park for Barcelona, as he covered the defence smartly while hardly getting overrun. Real Sociedad thus had to find ways to bypass the Barcelona captain, directing traffic from the flanks in the second half as a result.

Frenkie de Jong: 8/10

Frenkie de Jong has stepped up in the absence of Pedri and looked in good touch again. The Dutch international played a joint-game-high three key passes and linked up superbly with Ferran Torres. He also looked to get into dangerous scoring positions and came close to scoring once. And de Jong also put in the hard yards off the ball, winning four tackles and 11 duels.

Ousmane Dembele: 7/10

Dembele looked like he meant business from the word go and showed good chemistry with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. But the Frenchman’s end product was lacking as he misplaced several passes while failing to direct any of his three shots on target. But there is nothing to be concerned about, with Dembele still looking in decent touch.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 7/10

Aubameyang started the game well, positioning himself perfectly to place a simple header into the back of the net. But the Gabonese striker should have celebrated a brace instead of spurning a fantastic opening later in the first half. Still, the performance on Thursday was a step in the right direction.

Ferran Torres: 8/10

Torres had shown signs of fatigue in the past week but produced one of his better displays in a Barcelona shirt. The Spanish international was a bundle of energy and constantly looked to find a teammate in pockets of space. Torres also played a joint-game-high three key passes, including the assist for Aubameyang, while linking up beautifully with Frenkie de Jong on the left-hand side.

SUBSTITUTES

Eric Garcia: 7/10

Garcia replaced the injured Araujo and was solid in the game’s final quarter. The Spaniard made several crucial clearances (five) while misplacing just one pass when playing out from the back.

Sergino Dest: 6.5/10

Dest replaced Alves and gave a good account of himself, keeping a check on Januzaj while winning two duels. But the USMNT international barely carried a threat in the final third.

Luuk de Jong: N/A

A late introduction, de Jong did not have much time to influence the proceedings.

Clement Lenglet: N/A

A late introduction, Lenglet helped see the game out.

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