Real Sociedad (7th, 3pts) vs FC Barcelona (10th, 1pt)*
*Points and positions at the time of writing on Saturday
Competition/Round: 2022-23 La Liga, Matchday 2
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Sergio Busquets, Jules Koundé, Sergiño Dest, Ez Abde, Martin Braithwaite, Samuel Umtiti (out)
Real Sociedad Outs & Doubts: Mikel Oyarzabal, Diego Rico, Martín Merquelanz, Carlos Fernández (out)
Date/Time: Sunday, August 21, 2022, 10pm CET (Barcelona), 9pm BST/WAT (UK & Nigeria), 4pm ET, 1pm PT (USA), 1.30am IST (India, Monday)
Venue: Reale Arena, San Sebastián, Basque Country, Spain
Referee: Jose Luis Munuera Montero
VAR: José Luis González González
How to watch on TV: Not Available (USA, Canada), Premier Sports 1, ITV 4 (UK), MTV (India), SuperSport (Nigeria), Movistar La Liga (Spain), others
Following a disappointing draw in the season opener against Rayo Vallecano and a full week of training and more transfer speculation, Barcelona return to action this Sunday when they travel to the cauldron of Anoeta to face Real Sociedad.
Because of all the rumors that continue to dominate the Barça discourse, the team actually got to work quietly without a lot of overreactions to the poor result against Rayo last weekend. Despite quite a few positives the overall showing was subpar, and dropping points early in what promises to be a tight title race is not a good idea.
Which is why this trip to Anoeta takes even more importance despite it only being the second game of the season. Even though they’re unbeaten there since breaking the infamous curse five years ago, Barça always suffer against a brutal Sociedad side that takes advantage of the home crowd to create an incredibly tough atmosphere to face. Every game there is wild, and Sunday won’t be any different.
There is a real possibility Barça come out of the first two games with two or even just one point, which will cause a storm of criticism of coaches and players, crazy overreactions and plenty of trolling opportunities for fans of other teams on social media (for those who are dumb enough to care about that stuff). Playing well and taking all three points will avoid all of that, and will allow the club to go into a critical last week of the transfer window with clear heads.
Expecting a big victory is unrealistic. Even Pep Guardiola’s dynasty failed to win at Sociedad. Three points are a cause for celebration, and a strong rebound performance from a few individuals and the team as a whole will be a nice cherry on top. But if you’re a Barça fan, prepare for 90 minutes of hell.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Roberto, Araujo, Eric, Balde; De Jong, Pjanic, Pedri; Raphinha, Lewandowski, Dembélé
Real Sociedad (4-2-3-1): Remiro; Elustondo, Zubeldia, Le Normand, Muñoz; Merino, Zubimendi; Kubo, Silva, Méndez; Isak
Anoeta is hell, and I have a really bad feeling about this one. But I’ll choose to stay positive just so we avoid a week of silliness: 2-1 Barça, with Lewandowski’s first competitive goal for the club.