On Saturday, 9th of April 2016, FC Barcelona will visit the Basque Country to measure forces with Real Sociedad at the emblematic Anoeta Stadium for Round 32 of the Spanish Liga BBVA.
It is fair to say that the spectacular 2-2 draw at El Madrigal against Villarreal CF three weeks ago did indeed affect FC Barcelona’s state of mind. The Catalan team failed to impress when they hosted Real Madrid CF at Camp Nou last weekend and ended up defeated by 2-1.
Luis Enrique’s men controlled the course of the match until scoring the opening goal early in the second-half by Spanish international defender Gerard Piqué, but for some unknown reason they have allowed the visitors to put up a strong comeback.
Los Blancos were down to 10 men when they netted their winning goal by the usual suspect Cristiano Ronaldo, who managed once again to silence a fully packed Camp Nou, which was certainly not expecting to witness Barcelona’s utter dismay against their all-time rivals.
Despite such setback, the Blaugranas managed to pull rank against Atlético Madrid for the first-leg of the UEFA Champions League Quarter-finals and won the match by 2-1. The visitors had some complaints about the referee’s overall performance, who according to them, benefited the home side with some controversial decisions.
The upcoming match against Real Sociedad will certainly not be an easy one for FC Barcelona. The Catalan team were defeated in their last two visits to Anoeta and their last win at San Sebástian was back in 2007, when Andrés Iniesta and Samuel Eto’o granted Barça a solid 2-0 win.
For Saturday’s important fixture, Luis Enrique will not be able to rely on the services of Uruguayan striker Luis Suárez, who is suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against Real Madrid CF last time out. Aleix Vidal, Sandro Ramirez and Mathieu are still undergoing treatment for their respective injuries and they will also miss out there.
As for Real Sociedad, the Basque team have finally managed to put an abrupt end to a less impressive streak of results, after picking up a spectacular win at Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán last weekend. Real Sociedad put up a solid overall performance even when they were down to 10 men after Bergara’s red card on minute 68’.
Next weekend’s match will certainly be special for the Basque team’s head coach Eusebio Sacristán, who served FC Barcelona as a player, assistant manager and reserve team head coach for quite a long period of time. The 51-year old boss will not be able to rely on the services of Bergara and Yuri Berchiche for next Saturday’s match because they are both suspended. Imanol Agirretxe and Carlos Martinez are not fully recovered from their respective injuries and are in doubt out there.
Last term, FC Barcelona were defeated at Anoeta by 1-0 and they have to take care if they don’t want that to happen once again next weekend. That being said, this might probably be Barça’s strongest line-up for upcoming fixture against Real Sociedad.
Luis Enrique fielded, as usual, Marc-André ter Stegen in the UEFA Champions League match in the middle of the week against Atlético Madrid, but next weekend, Claudio Bravo should make his way into the starting XI once again.
Dani Alves’ childish mistake during Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal last weekend might cost the Brazilian a place in next Saturday’s starting XI. This being said, Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Mascherano and Jordi Alba, will probably compose FC Barcelona’s next time out.
Luis Enrique will probably not change much in the centre of the pitch at Anoeta next Saturday. Busquets will certainly assume the defensive midfielder role, while Ivan Rakitic and Arda Turan will probably make up the remaining vertices of the midfield triangle. André Iniesta will probably be given a rest.
Luis Suaréz’s absence will probably open way to Munir El Haddadi once again. The talented young forward has been doing good so far this season and he will certainly be the chosen one to play alongside Messi and Neymar up front.