After the ill-tempered match in Champions League, can Barcelona players concentrate and continue their march to win La Liga or will Mou’s war of words suffice to create distraction to prevent Barcelona’s victory? Find out what we think after the jump.
It’s already late today and it seems that the world of football hasn’t moved on from the controversy that is El Clasico 3. Although it’s a very bitter pill to swallow, a few days ago I reluctantly resigned to the notion that Pepe didn’t really tackle Alves. Although if it’s true, I must be amazed at how quickly Alves can do a body spin like that just with one leg. That must have meant he had one hell of a strong pair of leg there. Imagine my shock as today another video emerged which proves that Madrid’s alleged proof is nothing but a digitally manipulated video. Which one is real, and which one is not. One thing for sure, I just hope that all this storm will ride away sooner rather than later.
Real Sociedad is a team that showed a lot of promise in the first half of the season but lately they have plunged into the midtable and are now currently residing in 12th position. They seem unable to find a striker that is good enough to warrant a place in the team as Joseba Llorente who used to start each game in the first half of the season only got 5 goals and 6 assist in 18 games and lost his place through a hernia problem. Although having said that, their current forward Antoine Griezmann may inflict damage to Barcelona using his energetic play. They have lost four and won once in their last five games, and hopefully Barcelona will field a team powerful enough to warrant a win.
The last time we met them at the Camp Nou, we laid a Manita on them with Villa, Iniesta, Messi(2) and Bojan on the scoresheet. Messi’s 2nd was a wondrous goal. Here are the goals of that match to refresh your memory:
Coming back to tonight’s game, Guardiola is certain to rest several key players to ensure they’re able to give their best in the 2nd leg of the Champions League semifinal against Real Madrid, coming up on tuesday. Puyol and Iniesta will not feature in today’s game. Of the three youngsters that are included in the squad, one name makes me very happy indeed: Gerard Deulofeu is in the squad against Sociedad. This may well prove to be the first of many. After playing really well with Spain U-17, Deulofeu finally had a chance to train with the first team. It’s clear that there’s a lot of improvement needed for him, but he showed imagination and bravado in his game, which is rare nowadays.
With no left back available, it’s highly likely that Mascherano will be back playing as left back or at least centre back. Either Montoya and/or Fontas will also start with Milito and Pique will be the safety net for today’s game. In midfield, there can be a lot of change. Xavi will probably be rested so Keita, Busquets, and Thiago will probably start with Jeffren, Afellay, and Villa starting as the forwards. This will of course be very interesting to watch as there are a lot of fresh faces and a possible debut of Deulofeu for the first team.
The team is only missing Joseba Llorente and even he is almost fit enough to be included in the squad. Sociedad will have to work hard to prevent a loss in front of their crowd today.
Predicted Starting XI: C Bravo – V Demidov – M Labaka – Estrada – Martinez – Aranburu – D Rivas – D Ifran – Zurutuza – X Prieto – Griezmann
Messi did not train with the team on Thursday after a slight leg injury leg injury from Wednesday’s victory. Carles Puyol will be rested and Barcelona’s defense will also be without Eric Abidal, Adriano and Maxwell, who may return from a groin injury. Deulofeu might be a surprise in this game, being a starter or just a substitution debut in second half.
Predicted Starting XI: Valdes-Milito-Pique-Montoya-Mascherano-Busquets-Thiago-Keita-Jeffren-Villa-Afellay.
Barca must keep playing their own game. Pique and the rest of the senior team must be calm and lead the youngsters that will feature in this match. Thiago and Afellay can be the key to success in this fixture as Barca will be short of Xavi, Messi, and Iniesta. It’s very likely that Deulofeu will be asked to take part in the game, so keep an eye out for him also.
Real Sociedad 0 – 2 FC Barcelona