Preview: Real Sociedad v Barcelona

Struggling Real Sociedad will no doubt try to have a say in La Liga’s title race when they face runaway leaders Real Sociedad in Sunday’s clash at the Estadio Municipal de Anoeta.

La Liga
14 January 2018
Game week 19
Kick-off: 20:45 (CET)
Venue: Estadio Municipal de Anoeta

Referee: José González
Assistants: Rubén Becerril, Ignacio Rubio
Fourth official: Alfonso Vicente

Head-to-head summary:

TEAM MATCHES WIN DRAW LOSS

Real Sociedad 46 8 10 28
Barcelona 46 28 10 8

Previous encounter:

Barcelona 3-2 Real Sociedad 15 April 2017
Barca goalscorers: L. Messi (17′), (37′) P. Alcácer (44′)
Sociedad scorers: S. Umtiti (OG) (42′), Xabi Prieto (45+1)

Players to watch:

With just two clean sheets in the club’s last 10 matches, goalkeeper Gerónimo Rulli could be one to watch on Sunday evening at Anoeta. With Barca’s deadly attack having plundered 48 goals in 18 matches so far this season, the 25-year-old could have a major say in the outcome of the contest.

Ousmane Dembélé has much to prove since his big-money arrival from Borussia Dortmund at the start of the season. Now fully fit after recovering from injury, the over €105 million signing is yet to record a goal and has just one assist in the limited appearances he has made. The forward needs a big performance to prove his worth to Barca fans.

Team form and manager quotes:

Sociedad boss Eusebio Sacristán believes a result against Barca is possible even though his side are going through a difficult patch. With just two wins in 10 league matches, the outfit from Donostia-San Sebastián are in 13th position.

He told reporters, “If things are done well, there will be options against Barça. We know their virtues and try to put them in difficulties, putting the best of ourselves. We are very focused.”

For visiting manager Ernesto Valverde, Sunday’s encounter is another opportunity to maintain the club’s high standards. Number one in Spain and still alive in all competitions, he said, “It’s a coach’s job to speak about his team. We’re competitive, in three competitions, at the greatest club in the world. We’re always trying to win and make our fans happy. We think our players are the best, that’s the way it is.”

Team news:

Rafinha and Gerard Deulofeu are left out along with the injured Samuel Umtiti, Paco Alcácer and Philippe Coutinho. Sergio Busquets returns from suspension.

Defenders Carlos Martinez and Inigo Martinez are both sidelined for the home team, while striker Carlos Vela recently left to join MLS outfit Los Angeles FC.

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