VAR comes to Barcelona’s rescue
Barcelona looked to be heading for a damaging goalless draw until VAR intervened late on to swing the game in the hosts’ favour and hand them all three points.
The only goal of the game came from the penalty spot after Robin Le Normand had been penalised for handball when challenging with Clement Lenglet in the box.
It was a foul that seemed to go unnoticed by pretty much everyone at the time, but certainly not Gerard Pique who complained to the referee and a while later VAR decided he had a point.
Messi came up with the goods from the spot to give Barca the lead with just nine minutes of normal time remaining, but the the hosts were fortunate not to concede a penalty straight after.
Antoine Griezmann appeared to push Nacho Monreal as he raced into the box, but this time no penalty was forthcoming and Barca managed to hold on to see out the win.
Barca have seen VAR decisions go against them this season, particularly in the 2-2 draw at Anoeta in December, but this time they had reason to thank the technology.
It’s a great result against a very talented Real Sociedad that sends Barca back to the top, but there’s no doubt they required a bit of fortune at the Camp Nou on Saturday.
Braithwaite stakes claim for starting spot
Martin Braithwaite made his first Barcelona start against Real Sociedad and put in a lively showing in attack for Quique Setien’s side.
The Denmark international’s pace and willingness to run in behind created danger, and he forced goalkeeper Alex Remiro into a couple of good saves with shots on goal.
Braithwaite was a genuine threat for Barca, certainly far more dangerous than Antoine Griezmann who had another quiet game and still only has one La Liga goal in 2020.
Martin Braithwaite took 3 shots in the first half vs. Real Sociedad, no player on the pitch took more.— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) March 7, 2020
As many shots as Messi and Griezmann combined. pic.twitter.com/b7pHNH6qRg
Braithwaite’s performance suggests he may well stay in the XI, and he also appears to have won over the fans and earned the trust of Lionel Messi in his brief time at the club.
Twice in the first half he was played in behind by the captain, and the warm applause from the home fans when he was substituted was deserved.
Barca put pressure back on Real Madrid
Barcelona’s win over Real Sociedad means the champions return to the top of the table in Spain and puts the pressure back on Real Madrid.
Los Blancos face a tricky test on Sunday night when they take on Real Betis at the Benito Villamarín Stadium, and they need to win to knock Barca off top spot.
After today's win, @FCBarcelona end the night back in top spot. ❤️#LaLigaSantander pic.twitter.com/CLPrkHxgSF— LaLiga English (@LaLigaEN) March 7, 2020
Betis aren’t exactly in great form and have gone six games without a win since they beat Real Sociedad 3-0 at home in January.
Yet they gave Barca a real battle a few weeks ago, eventually going down 3-2, and will know they can be dragged into a relegation scrap if they can’t turn their form around.