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Barcelona vs Real Sociedad, La Liga: Team News, Match Preview

Barça kick off a new season — and a new era — against one of the best teams in the league

FC Barcelona v Juventus - Torneig Gamper Final - Friendly Match Photo by Sportinfoto/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

FC Barcelona vs Real Sociedad


Competition/Round: 2021-22 La Liga, Matchday 1

Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Marc-André ter Stegen, Ansu Fati, Ousmane Dembélé, Óscar Mingueza, Sergio Agüero (out), Frenkie De Jong, Eric García (doubt)

Sociedad Outs & Doubts: Alexander Isak, Carlos Fernández, Nacho Monreal, Igor Zubeldia, Mat Ryan, Diego Rico (out)

Date/Time: Sunday, August 15, 2021, 8pm CET (Barcelona), 7pm BST/WAT (UK & Nigeria), 2pm ET, 11am PT (USA), 11.30pm IST (India)

Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

Referee: Alejandro José Hernández Hernández

VAR: José Luis González González

How to watch on TV: ABC (USA), TSN 4 (Canada), LaLigaTV (UK), SuperSport (Nigeria), MTV (India), Movistar LaLiga (Spain), others

How to watch online: ESPN+ (USA), LaLigaTV (UK), others


A new season begins for Barcelona on Sunday as the Catalan giants welcome Real Sociedad to the Greatest Stadium on Earth in the opening match of the 2021-22 La Liga campaign.

But this is not only a new season, it’s a new era. Barça fans worldwide still haven’t recovered from the trauma of the last 10 days, and it will take quite a while to truly get over losing Lionel Messi and the circumstances in which he left.

The schedule to start the league season is brutal, and navigating it would have been tough with Messi. Now Ronald Koeman and his men must do it without the ultimate problem-solver, and La Real is about as tough as it gets.

Despite their disappointing finish to last season, Real Sociedad are without a doubt one of the best teams in Spain and retain all of the crucial pieces of their squad. Striker Alexander Isak might still leave in this window and he won’t be available to face Barça, but Mikel Oyarzabal, David Silva and the defensive structure are all still there.

La Real will bring defensive solidity and attacking creativity, and despite a historically poor record at Camp Nou they — and the rest of the league — will feel like they finally have a chance to win at Barça’s home this season.

There are very few reasons for optimism for Barcelona ahead of this new season, but you will never make me NOT believe in them. There is still a very talented, capable group of players in there and I’m willing to bet they are relishing the chance to prove their worth now that the GOAT is gone.

They say it’s the hope that kills you. That’s fine, because I’ll die a Barça fan. No matter what.

Let’s fucking dance.


POSSIBLE LINEUPS

Barcelona (4-3-3): Neto; Dest, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; Roberto, Busquets, Demir; Griezmann, Braithwaite, Memphis

Sociedad (4-3-3): Remiro; Gorosabel, Elustondo, Le Normand, Muñoz; Guevara, Illarramendi, Silva; Januzaj, Oyarzabal, Portu


PREDICTION

When we had Messi, a victory at home was a certainty. Now it’s impossible to know what will happen in any Barça match, but I’m an idiot and an optimist: 3-1 to the home team.