Real Sociedad (5th, 45pts) vs FC Barcelona (3rd, 59pts)
Competition/Round: 2020-21 La Liga, Matchday 28
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Ansu Fati, Gerard Piqué, Philippe Coutinho, Sergi Roberto (out)
Sociedad Outs & Doubts: David Silva, Luca Sangalli, Minguel Ángel Moyá, Joseba Zaldua, Aritz Elustondo (out)
Date/Time: Sunday, March 21, 2021, 9pm CET/WAT (Barcelona & Nigeria), 8pm GMT (UK), 4pm ET, 1pm PT (USA), 1.30am IST (India, Monday)
Venue: Estadio de Anoeta, San Sebastián, Basque Country, Spain
Referee: José Luis Munuera Montero
VAR: Ignacio Iglesias Villanueva
How to watch on TV: beIN SPORTS (USA & Canada), LaLigaTV (UK), SuperSport (Nigeria), Movistar LaLiga (Spain), Not Available (India), others
Following a huge win against Huesca and a rare full week of preparation, Barcelona are back in action in La Liga for one of the biggest games remaining on their schedule, away to Real Sociedad at Anoeta.
Barça fans who have watched this team for a while know just how brutal a trip to San Sebastián is. Even during the glory days of Pep Guardiola, Barça simply could not find a way to win there, and they went a full decade without a victory.
Then Neymar broke the streak in 2017, and Barça haven’t lost away to La Real since. It’s quite remarkable that they’re going into four years without losing at Anoeta, but this might be the best Sociedad team Barça have faced in those four years.
Despite dealing with injuries all season, La Real have been competitive and at times brilliant, and even though they’re not quite the force they were when they were top of the table for the first couple of months they are still a Top 5 team that can do damage to anyone.
Mikel Oyarzabal can be unplayable on his day, the defense is solid and Ander Guevara has been a revelation in midfield. Not having the fans at Anoeta certainly makes this slightly easier for Barça, but this promises to be a battle nonetheless. The Blaugrana must return to second place after Real Madrid’s win on Saturday, and three points could cut the deficit at the top if Atlético Madrid slip up at home against Alavés.
So it’s Anoeta and a great Sociedad team, followed by a two-week international break before the home stretch. Barça must win and get three points, but this could be the moment that ends their title bid if they can’t overcome one of the toughest grounds — and teams — in Spain.
Barcelona (3-5-2): Ter Stegen; Mingueza, Araujo, Lenglet; Dest, De Jong, Busquet, Pedri, Alba; Messi, Dembélé
Sociedad (4-3-3): Remiro; Gorosabel, Zubeldia, Le Normand, Muñoz; Guevara, Illarramendi, Merino; Portu, Isak, Oyarzabal
Anoeta is always brutal, but a fresh Barça with a Messi en fuego will find a way: 3-2 to the good guys in a La Liga classic.