Real Sociedad vs Barcelona preview

February 21, 2014
By: Nemanja Lazarevic

Barcelona vs Real SociedadHaving revived their top 4 bid with a narrow win over Malaga, Real Sociedad need to try and defeat La Liga leaders Barcelona in order to keep their Champions League hopes alive.

That could prove to be a very difficult task given that the Catalans go into the game on the back of an impressive Champions League victory over Manchester City.

Real Sociedad have been blowing hot and cold this season, although they have come a long way since that awful start to the campaign.

The latest poor run of results saw them crash out of Copa del Rey while picking up just one point from two league matches, but their last two performances can give them reason for optimism.

Home draw against full-strength Barcelona in the second leg of the Cup semi-finals will give Jagoba Arrasate’s side something to build on before they face the Catalans in the league, with La Real 3.25 (9/4) not to lose.

And it was Monday’s away triumph over Malaga that acted as a major boost to team’s Champions League hopes, especially since their top 4 rivals Athletic and Villarreal both lost.

Joseba Zaldua and Sergio Canales look set to make way for Mikel Gonzalez and Xabi Prieto despite impressing against Malaga, whereas Imanol Agirretxe should return from an ankle problem.

There are no fresh injury worries for boss Jagoba Arrasate, but Esteban Granero and Dani Estrada continue to miss out.

Probable starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Bravo – M. Gonzalez, Ansotegi, I. Martinez, Angel – Bergara, Pardo – Vela, Prieto, Griezmann – Agirretxe.

Barcelona, too, experienced some problems this season, with the 3-2 defeat to Valencia allowing arch rivals Real to catch them at the top, but the team have since returned to the right track.

The Catalans eased off to the Copa del Rey final thanks to a 3-1 aggregate victory over Real Sociedad, while winning league matches against Sevilla (4-1) and Rayo Vallecano (6-0) in style.

However, it was the 2-0 Champions League triumph over very good Manchester City side in midweek that acted as a major confidence boost.

The game showed that Barcelona still remain the team to beat and it will keep the team in good stead for another difficult match at Anoeta.

Despite sharing spoils with Real Sociedad last time out, Tata Martino’s side are considered 1.40 (2/5) favourites to win this game.

Full-back Jordi Alba faces a fitness test after suffering a hamstring problem, but there are no other worries for Gerardo Martino.

Probable starting line-up (4-3-3): Valdes – Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Adriano – Xavi, Busquets, Fabregas – Pedro, Messi, Neymar.

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