The Txuri-Urdin and the Blaugrana are currently fifth and fourth in the standings, respectively, and this weekend they face off in one of the standout fixtures of the season (Saturday, 9pm CEST).
Historically, any Real Sociedad-Barcelona match is one of the best games on the Spanish footballing calendar. This season it’s a contest that could even come to fruition in the Champions League knockout rounds. Coaches Imanol Alguacil and Xavi have their squads top of their groups in the continental competition, while they are two of the most attractive teams to watch across Europe. On Saturday, in Donostia-San Sebastian, they’ll be pitting their wits against each other once again, with the aim of climbing the standings.
The Basque outfit come into the game in fifth and on 19 points after drawing in Vallecas against Rayo Vallecano, meaning they’re five points behind Barcelona, who were just beaten by Real Madrid. Imanol’s side can’t afford to drop many more points if they want to celebrate another top-four finish at the end of the season, while Xavi’s charges don’t want to fall any further away from the summit. As such, both these teams are in need of points and that hunger should add extra spice to the match.
Real Sociedad and their supporters will also want to break a streak that has gone on for too long, as they haven’t defeated Barca at home in each of the Catalan side’s last seven visits. The Blaugrana have won five times and the other two duels in this run ended in draws. You’d have to go back to 2015/16 for Los Blanquiazules’ last win in this fixture, which came when a Mikel Oyarzabal goal gave the Reale Arena side the victory.
It’s Oyarzabal who Xavi will need to pay close attention to in this Saturday’s duel, as the forward scored a brace in last matchday’s game at Vallecas, taking his tally in the scoring charts to six, one more than teammate Takefusa Kubo, a former Barcelona youth team player for whom the match will be a special one. The Japanese player is a fan favourite and has been one of the most outstanding performers of the season so far, with the match against his former club putting him in the spotlight once more, a situation he’ll look to make the most of.
In the Barcelona ranks, scoring the goals is the task of Robert Lewandowski, who made his comeback from injury against Real Madrid and who will be even better prepared for this match. The Polish striker needed just 45 seconds last season to score on his visit to Real Sociedad’s stadium, a goal that set Barca on their way to a 4-1 victory. Keen to rejoin the top scorer race in La Liga, Lewandowski could be Xavi’s most dangerous weapon on Saturday.
It’ll also be interesting to follow the tactical tussle in the dugouts, as these are two coaches with a similar way of viewing the game. They both like to boss possession and to play attacking football, so that should guarantee a spectacle on the pitch of the highest quality. As two of the most attractive teams to watch in Spain and Europe, and with both clubs needing points, this should be a truly entertaining fixture.
It’ll be a high-quality game, one with world-class players, with Real Sociedad aiming to break a streak and with two coaches who’ll ensure a good match. This Real Sociedad vs Barcelona has all the ingredients to end up being one of the best games of the season.
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