There are a ton of narratives that could be spun to tell the tale of Barcelona’s last-gasp win at the Reale Arena.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen doing what he does best, Xavi getting it wrong again... yada yada.
The bottom line is that three hugely important points were on the line and regardless of whether luck played a part or not, Barca headed back to Catalonia with them.
For those of us of a certain age the Reale Arena/Anoeta was always the toughest of places to go. Real Sociedad away was a fixture that appeared to be the polar opposite of Real Sociedad at Camp Nou.
That particular hoodoo has long since been put to bed of course and yet, as we saw again on Saturday night, Barca still have a habit of making life difficult for themselves.
On the day, thank God for Ronald Araujo.
Almost denied the game winner by the assistant’s flag, his goal was a deserved reward for the leadership he showed in defence.
His warrior spirit, as in Carles Puyol’s day, is perfectly at home alongside Pedri’s mastery and Frenkie’s energy (when available!).
I’m not comparing our ‘Uruguayo’ with Puyol yet of course, but that is the level that he must aspire to and the level that I think we all believe he is capable of achieving.
He is one of the Barcelona captains at present, behind Sergi Roberto and Ter Stegen, and ahead of De Jong, and there’s a cogent argument that the 24-year-old really should find himself at the head of that particular list.
Until Sergi Roberto and Ter Stegen move on or retire, however, that’s unlikely to happen.
No matter. His importance is obvious, his leadership second to none, and his output at both ends of the pitch crucial.
Playing him on the right side of a back three doesn’t really work for me, even if he has the capability to do so.
One can understand Xavi’s thinking when he wants Araujo to man mark the likes of Vinicius Jr., but doing so in order to shoe horn Jules Kounde and Inigo Martinez into the back line isn’t necessarily the ideal solution.
Dropping another two points at La Real, whilst not disastrous, would’ve put Barca at a significant disadvantage in La Liga, and the passion in his and his team-mates’ celebrations once the goal was awarded told us everything about how much the win meant.
Who knows... it might even be the difference between winning or losing the title when we get down to the business end of the campaign...