Barcelona aim to retain top spot in La Liga when they travel to the city of San Sebastian to battle Real Sociedad, an opponent that has largely proven difficult (4 straight losses between 2013 and 2016) on their home ground, even though the Catalan team has won on their last three visits. Barca currently sit at the top of La Liga with 34 points, while their host occupy the fourth Champions League spot with 27 points.
Will Barca continue their impressive recent run against La Real or will the San Sebastian-based team put a dent in Barca’s championship credentials? Read on to find out what we think.
La Real started the season so well, but have somewhat gone off the boil in recent matches. The team currently has only one win in the last four matches. Their last match was a 0-0 draw away at Real Valladolid. According to media reports, the team has played some of the most pristine football in La Liga this season.
In Martin Ødegaard, La Real have a real talent and the Real Madrid loanee is certainly hoping to help his main club orchestrate Barca’s loss at the Estadio Anoeta. The youngster has seven goal contributions – three goals and 4 assists – in 16 matches and is not going to miss the opportunity to take advantage of a shaky Barcelona defence.
Real Sociedad have won 8 of their opening 16 league matches with the wins spread equally across home and away matches. They have scored 26 goals and conceded 16 goals. At home they average more than two goals scored per match, with 15 goals scored in seven games and should pose a threat to the visiting Blaugrana. La Real does, however, need to overcome a mental block; they’ve lost their last 7 games against Barcelona in all competitions.
After one of its worst starts on the road, Barca have somewhat steadied their away performance ship with four wins in five matches. However, the jury is still out on their away performance as the Catalan giants have struggled for fluency on the road this season. Part of the reason for their struggles away from home is that they don’t score enough and also concede; Ernesto Valverde’s side have scored only 11 goals and conceded 9 in the process.
Should they win this match, Barca would have won seven straight matches in all competitions. It’s worth noting that their upturn in form away from home has coincided with a certain Lionel Messi being available and in hitting form. The World Footballer of the year tops the top scorer’s chart with 12 goals and five assists despite missing the earlier part of the season due to injury. In this match Messi should also prove a factor.
With the El Classico looming, Barca would want to make sure they go into that game off the back of another win. This should prompt Valverde to field his strongest side. More so, when the likes of Messi, Pique, Suarez, and Marc-Andre ter Stegen were all left out of their Champions League match at the San Siro in midweek.
While both sides have one or two players struggling for fitness, they should still be able to field their strongest side or one very close. Barca have missed Alba foraging runs down the left flank; there are suggestions he could play some minutes in this match. He’s joined on the sidelines by Nelson Semedo, Ousmane Dembele, and Arthur. Real Sociedad might also be without the services of David Zurutuza, Asier Illarramendi, and Ruben Pardo.
Given that Real Sociedad haven’t scored two or more goals in their last three matches it is highly likely they won’t do so against better opposition. Coupled with the fact that Barcelona have two or more goals in their last seven matches, the safest bet will be a handicap 0-2 away win for Barcelona. You can read more sports betting tips on the match here.
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