?Barcelona will be looking to make it eight straight wins in all competitions when they travel to San Sebastian to take on Real Sociedad on Saturday afternoon.
The Catalans’ immense run of form has seen them climb to the summit of La Liga, with Real Madrid matching their 34-point tally after a similarly lengthy unbeaten run of their own – the pair, of course, meet in El Clásico on Wednesday night.
Despite their fine run and the form of Lionel Messi, the trip to the Anoeta Stadium will be anything but an easy one.
Sociedad have been one of the surprise packagesof the season so far, currently sitting fourth in the table after a ninth-place finish last time out. The form of creative mastermind Martin Odegaard (three goals and four assists), crafty winger Mikel Oyarzabal (five goals and four assists) and prolific finisher Willian Jose (seven goals) have been key for
Here’s 90min’s preview of Saturday’s La Liga clash.
Where to Watch
|When is Kick Off??||Saturday 14 December?|
|?What Time is Kick Off?||?15:00 (BST)|
|?Where is it Played?||?Anoeta Stadium|
|?TV Channel/Live Stream||?La Liga TV|
|?Referee||?Javier Alberola Rojas|
Sociedad have no fresh injury concerns from the side that drew 0-0 with Valladolid last weekend, although Ruben Pardo, Asier Illarramendi and David Zurutuza are still unavailable for selection.
Central defender Robin Le Normand is suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season last time out. Meanwhile, Joseba Zaldua will be available having served a suspension of his own against Valladolid.
Barça, meanwhile, will again be without the services of Ousmane Dembele due to a hamstring problem, while Arthur is still struggling to overcome an adductor issue.
Nelson Semedo remains absent due to a calf injury, although Jordi Alba is making progress in his recovery from a muscular problem and could potentially be involved this weekend.
Messi, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and Luis Suarez will all return to the XI having been left out of the side against Inter, but Antoine Griezmann should keep his place in Barça’s front three.
|?Sociedad||?Remiro; Zaldua, Llorente, Gorosabel, Monreal; Portu, Odegaard, Guevara, Merino, Oyarzabal; Willian Jose|
|?Barca||Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Firpo; Busquets, De Jong, Rakitic; Messi, Suarez, Griezmann?|
This will be the 51st meeting between the two sides, with the Catalans generally getting the better of Sociedad in the past. Saturday’s visitors have won 32 of the meetings while Sociedad have come out on top on just eight occasions.
The Basque side have, however, proven to be a ‘bogey’ team for Barcelona in the past. The Catalans once went 11 years without a league victory at the Anoeta Stadium before breaking the curse with a 1-0 win in January 2017.
Last season, we saw Ernesto Valverde’s side win both encounters by a 2-1 scoreline.
Despite their healthy position in the table,
After tearing apart a sorry Eibar side with a second-half blitz which saw them score three times,
Here’s how these two have fared in their last five encounters.
|?Valladolid 0-0 Sociedad (08/12)||?Inter 1-2 Barça (10/12)|
|?Sociedad 4-1 Eibar (30/11)||?Barça 5-2 Mallorca (07/12)|
|?Real Madrid 3-1 Sociedad (23/11)||?Atletico 0-1 Barça (01/12)|
|?Sociedad 1-1 Leganes (08/11)||?Barça 3-1 Dortmund (27/11)|
|?Granada 1-2 Sociedad (03/11)||?Leganes 1-2 Barça (23/11)|
Will Barça’s hot streak come to an end on Saturday afternoon? Quite possibly.
This is a Sociedad side that can score goals from anywhere; Oyarzabal and Portu on the wings both have an eye for goal, Willian Jose is a natural goalscorer and Odegaard is the ultimate technician who can hurt you from central midfield. They’ve also shown to be competent defensively as well – conceding just 18 in 16.
Overall, this is a tough, tough fixture for Barça with
Prediction: Real Sociedad 1-1 Barcelona