Match Review: FC Barcelona vs Real Sociedad

BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 15: Lionel Messi (L) of FC Barcelona celebrates with his teammate Luis Suarez after scoring his team's second goal during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Real Sociedad de Futbol at Camp Nou stadium on April 15, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

FC Barcelona scraped out a 3-2 win over Real Sociedad at home on Saturday for a vital, if not convincing, three points.

Last week, Barcelona went down 2-0 to Málaga in a league game which could have put them level on points with Real Madrid. Midweek, there was the 3-0 defeat in the Champions League to Juventus. So after the last two results, it wouldn’t be much exaggeration to say the mood among Barcelona supporters was dire, rapidly edging towards apocalyptic.

A win is a win, especially 32 weeks into the league, but this result won’t (and shouldn’t) inspire much confidence for the challenges ahead.

Although fans in the Camp Nou sang “we believe, we believe,” at the end of the match, it’s hard to imagine Barcelona overturning a three goal deficit in the return leg against Juventus on their current form. It’s also difficult to picture them getting three points against Real Madrid next weekend.

However, all the team could reasonably do yesterday was get a win.

As Luis Enrique reminded the press before the game, “I have no doubt that we can turn the Juventus result around. But first we must beat Real Sociedad.” And they did that, despite how nervy it was to get through the 90 minutes.

Lineups:

Barcelona started the match with four changes in the lineup from the side that faced Juventus. Marc-André ter Stegen was in goal, behind a back four of Jordi Alba, Gerard Piqué, Samuel Umtiti, and Sergi Roberto. The starting 11 was rounded out by Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitić, André Gomes, Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez, and Paco Alcácer.

Real Sociedad, who are currently seventh in the league table and came away with a draw during the season’s first meeting with Barcelona, lined up this way:

Gerónimo Rulli in goal; with Martínez, Navas, Berchiche, Zaldúa, Prieto, Zurutuza, Illarramendi, Willian José, Oyarzabal, and Carlos Vela taking the field as well.
The Match:
The saving grace in a rough match came from Lionel Messi. (I feel like I’ve typed this sentence in a match review before, maybe more than once). He opened the scoring in the 17th minute to put Barcelona in front, and then added a second twenty minutes later to double the advantage.
Sociedad pulled one back five minutes later through an Umtiti own goal — the ball deflecting off an Iñigo Martínez shot and into the net.
After Messi’s second goal in the 37th, it felt like the dying minutes of the first half packed enough action for an entire 90 minutes. Paco scored his fourth league goal of the season in the 44th minute.
The 3-1 lead only lasted until stoppage time, as Xabi Prieto brought the visitors within a goal just moments before the break.
The second half was calmer, but a long wait to assure the three points were secure. Iniesta replaced Gomes in the 69th minute and Denis Suárez came in for Paco in the 78th. Rulli was strong in goal for Sociedad, denying Luis Suárez a chance late in the game.
The Week Ahead:
Barça are about to face two of the season’s toughest challenges — Wednesday against Juventus, and Sunday against Real Madrid. This is the same team who created a miracle against PSG, but it lightning will need to strike not twice, but three times this year in order to win the next two matches. With Neymar suspended, there won’t be MSN at the front. Additionally, the team desperately needs to firm up its defense. Could a tighter back line and some kind of inspiration in the midfield could be the change they need? Ideally yes, but only the next 180 minutes of football will tell.

You Might Also Like

  • futbolistaviva

    Where are the haters and playstation fan boys?
    Our lads grit out a tough match for 3 points and zilch, nada, nothing.
    Bring it on Barca haters!