Match Preview – Real Sociedad vs Barcelona

Matchday 32 – Real Sociedad v Barcelona  – Match Preview

Saturday 9th April 2016

Following Real’s fantastic victory last weekend at Sevilla we now face the daunting task of hosting league leaders Barca.  Last weekend’s win at the Sánchez Pizjuán should give Real a huge moral boost and I am fortunate enough to be travelling to San Sebastián to watch this match.

Barca arrive following a very demanding week that includes a midweek Champions League victory against Atletico Madrid, and losing their last league outing at home to Real Madrid.

They will be desperate to return to winning ways after the 1-2 Classico defeat.  Luis Enrique’s men still hold a six-point lead over second-placed Atletico Madrid in the league table, but they cannot afford to slip up again on Saturday.  They are not helped by the suspension of Luis Suarez.

It should be noted that there is a huge difference in the goal statistics of the two teams.  Both have played 31 games and Barca have scored 87 goals, conceding 26.  In contrast Real have only managed to find the net 39 times but have conceded 42 goals.  Sounds like it should be a walk in the park for the Catalans, but recent history indicates that the game may be closer than that.

This is the 6th time the teams have met in San Sebastián since Real rejoined the elite division. In that time Real have not lost to Barca in the league at Anoeta, recording an impressive four wins and one draw. In fact Real’s record of 23 draws with Barca in home league matches, is better than any other team have managed.

The last time Barca emerged victorious at Anoeta was almost 9 years ago in May 2007, when goals from Samuel Eto’o and Andres Iniesta gave the Catalans all 3 points.  Overall history shows that the Txuri-urdin have played host to Barcelona a total of 68 times, with the Basque side achieving a positive record of 28 victories, 23 draws and 17 defeats.

Eusebio has named the following squad for this match:

Rulli, Bardají , Zaldua, Aritz Elustondo, Mikel, Diego Reyes, De la Bella, Héctor, Pardo, Illarra, Zubeldia, Granero, Zurutuza, Xabi Prieto, Bruma, Oyarzabal, Vela and Jonathas. Missing due to suspension are Yuri and Markel.

Injury means that Inigo, Carlos Martinez, Raul Navas, Canales and Agirretxe are all absent.  The loss of Inigo is a big blow but Sanse midfield player Igor Zubeldia gets his first opportunity in place of Markel.

In other news Real have announced they are to undertake a tour of the United States at the end of the current season. The Txuri-urdin will travel to North America after the final league game against Valencia.

On the 18th May we will play a friendly against San Jose Earthquakes in California, then on the 24th May will compete in the Texas Charities Cup against Houston Dynamo.  These are low quality matches which are likely to be financially motivated.

The most interesting thing about the tour will be whether Carlos Vela will actually return to San Sebastián when it ends.  However if he stays in the USA as he has previously indicated is a possibility, and if Donald Trump gets elected, Carlos might find himself on the wrong side of the wall that ‘The Donald’ is promising to build!  That is unlikely to end well for the Mexican!

Gero Rulli has apparently indicated that he wishes to stay with the club next season, even though his current loan deal will be at its end.  Before negotiations commence his agents are believed to want to see the renewal of the contract of Inigo Martinez, as a demonstration of Real’s commitment to challenge for the European qualification places.

Diego Reyes is also believed to have told Porto that he wishes to stay with Real.  This may be a bit more problematic as no financial deal is currently agreed between the clubs to either extend his loan or to buy him outright.

Finally, the club are caught up in the Panama Papers scandal regarding the way overseas players were paid in the years before 2008.  This was before current President Jokin Aperribay took charge.  Aperribay appears confident that this issue will not have a negative impact on the club going forward, and he says that he dealt with the matter when he took over the role of President in 2009.

Bookmakers Bet 365 offer the following odds for this match:

Real Sociedad to win 5/1, Draw 10/3 and Barcelona to win 1/2.

 

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