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La Liga: FC Barcelona vs Real Sociedad: Match Preview

A preview of what could be the final Jornada of the La Liga season, as FC Barcelona prepare to welcome David Moyes and Real Sociedad to the Camp Nou

Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

From euphoria in Europe to domestic disarray; talk about a week to remember for FC Barcelona. The majestic midweek victory over Pep Guardiola and Bayern Munich saw the Blaugrana move one tantalizing step closer to an unprecedented second treble in six years, but those hopes may have been extinguished by the other major development on Wednesday evening, as a strike was announced that threatens to not only disrupt but perhaps cancel the end of the Spanish football season.

With the players' union and the Spanish football federation embroiled in a conflict over the distribution of the league's television income, the final two fixtures of the La Liga season are set to be suspended along with the Copa del Rey final between FC Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao. Both parties will be keen to reach a resolution as soon as possible, although neither camp have shown any signs that they are willing to back down any time soon meaning that for now, we are at an impasse.

Whether this means that Barcelona play the final two matches of their La Liga campaign in June remains to be seen, but for now, the Blaugrana must focus on their upcoming match: this weekend's clash with Real Sociedad.

The last time these two sides met it was at the Anoeta, and David Moyes masterminded an improbable home victory. The shock 0-1 defeat raised all manner of questions back in Catalunya, prompting some journalists to debate Luis Enrique's status as head coach. Apparently, he had fallen out with Lionel Messi and Neymar, thereby making his position untenable. It seems like a lifetime ago, doesn't it?

And while we all want to banish that period from our memories, it serves as a poignant reminder of both the progress we have made this season, and the perilously thin line between genius and insanity that football managers must navigate on a daily basis.

The trick, as I'm sure Luis Enrique will attest, is to take everything one step at a time.



How about this for a birthday treat for Luis Enrique: FC Barcelona have no new injury or suspension concerns headed into tomorrow's match, as Jeremy Mathieu remains the only absentee across the first-team squad. That, coupled with the win over Bayern and a rapturous welcome to training today by the players has made this a memorable birthday week for our head coach.

In theory, this was supposed to be one of the toughest matches on the calendar, purely because of the date on which it was scheduled. Sandwiched in-between two difficult fixtures against Bayern Munich, it was thought that Lucho would be forced into utilising his squad to its fullest extent, yet after a comprehensive first-leg victory at the Camp Nou, those concerns and those fears have dissipated.

Our place in the final may not be mathematically secure, but realistically it is as good as ours and as such, there isn’t a requirement to rest the key names. Expect some rotation, but nothing over and above what we would usually anticipate.

Claudio Bravo will return between the sticks looking to keep his fifth successive clean sheet, which would also be his seventh in his last eight appearances and Barcelona’s sixth consecutive shutout in all competitions. The frontline deserve their plaudits, but just as their sensational run of goalscoring form has lit up the footballing world, our clean sheet streak against such impressive opposition must also be considered an incredible feat.

Credit then to the defense for the part they have played in this magical run; everyone is performing at their very best and Enrique will be hoping that this trend continues tomorrow, irrespective of whether he chooses to rotate some star names.

For instance, it might be prudent to suggest that Dani Alves is kept in reserve after his wonderful display against the Bavarians, and that Martin Montoya could deputise quite readily against the side from San Sebastian. Likewise, Javier Mascherano or Gerard Piqué could be rested, with Marc Bartra entering the side in their place. Personally, my money is on Mascherano being "dropped" to the bench for the Catalan.

At left-back though, expect to see Jordi Alba continue as he showed little sign of his injury scare earlier in the week with a fine performance against Bayern. As the youngest member of the backline, Alba definitely has the legs to go the distance – plus his speed and skill could make the difference down the left-flank, particularly if a certain Brazilian is given a night off in attack.

In midfield, Sergio Busquets will anchor the side with Sergi Roberto a candidate to replace him later in the match assuming things go according to plan, with Rafinha Alcântara and Xavi potentially providing support in the two advanced roles. However, don’t be surprised if Lucho calls upon Rakitić for this match; his industrious attitude is tailor-made for a match like this, and could prove to be the perfect complement for Xavi’s penchant for providing a killer pass.

Then, the Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar trident is odds-on to start again up top, although there is a possibility that Pedro will disrupt things a little by replacing one of the three, likely Neymar, possibly Suarez. This after all may be the last real opportunity for Pedro to start, as barring injury one would expect Enrique to field MSN in the match against Bayern, Atletico, Deportivo if the title is on the line, and in the Copa del Rey and potential UEFA Champions League final.

And with rumours continuing to surface claiming that this will indeed be Pedro’s final season at the club, it would be good to see him start one final time, for old time’s sake.


One win in seven isn’t exactly a stellar return for David Moyes’ side, but with that win coming last weekend in quite convincing fashion against Levante UD, La Real are sure to be full of confidence and with absolutely no pressure on them, they must quietly fancy their chances at pulling off another upset. Carlos Vela is back amongst the goals, Mikel Gonzalez is back from suspension; could they turn back the clock to shock the Blaugrana juggernaut?


Barcelona: WWWWWW

Real Sociedad: LDLDDW


Real Sociedad 1-0 FC Barcelona – 4th January 2015 – La Liga

The New Year got off to a quite terrible start for FC Barcelona, as they resumed their La Liga campaign with a disappointing away defeat against Real Sociedad at the Anoeta. An own-goal from Jordi Alba on the night was enough to secure the Blaugrana’s fate and prompt a crisis at the Camp Nou.


Barcelona (4-3-3): Bravo; Montoya, Bartra, Piqué, Alba; Busquets, Xavi, Rafinha; Messi, Suarez, Neymar

Real Sociedad (4-2-3-1): Rulli; Martinez, Gonzalez, Inigo, De La Bella; Bergara, Elustondo; Prieto, Zurutuza, Canales; Vela


We’re just too good y’all; 3-0 Barça.

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