Real Sociedad (5th, 27pts) vs FC Barcelona (1st, 34pts)*
*Points and positions at the time of writing on Monday
Competition/Round: 2019-20 La Liga, Matchday 17
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Arthur, Ousmane Dembélé, Moussa Wagué, Junior Firpo (out)
Sociedad Outs & Doubts: Asier Illarramendi, Artiz Elustondo, David Zurutuza, Le Normand (out)
Date/Time: Saturday, December 14, 2019, 4pm CET/WAT (Barcelona & Nigeria), 3pm GMT (UK), 10am ET, 7am PT (USA), 8.30pm IST (India)
Venue: Reale Arena (Anoeta Stadium in our hearts), San Sebastián, Basque Country, Spain
Referee: Javier Alberola Rojas
How to watch on TV: beIN SPORTS (USA & Canada), SuperSport 7 (Nigeria), Movistar LaLiga (Spain), Not Available (UK & India), others
How to stream: FuboTV (USA), beIN SPORTS CONNECT (USA & Canada), Premier Player (UK), Movistar+ (Spain), Facebook Live (India), others
Following an amazing win over Inter Milan with the reserves to end the Champions League group stage in style, Barcelona return to La Liga action with the first of two games of gigantic proportions in the title race: El Clásico against Real Madrid is next Wednesday at Camp Nou, and every Barça fan is already too anxious waiting for that one.
But before that there’s the small matter of Real Sociedad at Anoeta, which for a full decade was a match that always ended in disaster, dispair and the feeling that Barça would never, ever win away to La Real. But things have changed: Barça have won the last three games at Anoeta and the last seven overall against Sociedad in all competitions since 2017, and Sociedad are now simply a really tough opponent instead of the one team Barça simply could not conquer for nearly 10 years.
If there’s a Sociedad team that’s capable of ending the losing streak against Barça, however, it’s this one: La Real have been awesome this season, playing a beautiful brand of attacking, intense football that’s given them great results against the best teams in the country. Willian José loves to score against Barça and is still there leading the front three, and former source of Real Madrid jokes Martin Ødegaard is a seriously good player now that would love to score against and beat his parent club’s biggest rival right before El Clásico.
Barça can’t afford to think about Madrid in this match and must be prepared for a war against a really good team. The Anoeta Curse is gone, but it doesn’t mean the Blaugrana can’t lose there.
This is gonna be GOOD.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Roberto, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, De Jong; Messi, Suárez, Griezmann
Sociedad (4-3-3): Remiro; Zaldua, Zubeldia, Llorente, Monreal; Ødegaard, Guevara, Merino; Portu, Willian José, Oyarzábal
I’m not expecting Barça to look ahead and will take this as seriously as possible, which will lead to enough goals to win against the second-worst home defense in the Top 5 (HOW ABOUT THAT STAT): 3-1 to the champions.