After a series of summer signings, Barcelona want to get their first win of the new season against Real Sociedad after they stuttered to a disappointing draw against Rayo Vallecano in the opening game of 2022/23. The Catalans will also be without the services of midfielder Sergio Busquests, following his second yellow card of the game in stoppage time. Barcelona play their second La Liga match of the season on Sunday when they go to Real Sociedad on Matchday 2. Xavi’s Barça, featuring a plethora of new signings, were underwhelming in their opener and were forced to settle to a scoreless draw at home against Rayo Vallecano at the Camp Nou. That was a match where Barça had 21 shots and six on frame yet could not break down a club they’ve had their fair trouble with. Against Real Sociedad, they’ll hope the attack can come to life. Against one of the best defensive units in La Liga from last season, the Catalans could struggle to get among the goals
Barcelona travel to the Reale Arena to face Real Sociedad on Sunday evening with Xavi Hernandez’s side looking for their first points of the La Liga season. The Blaugrana were held to an unexpected goalless draw by Rayo Vallecano at the Camp Nou in their first match of the new campaign, and know they face a tough test when they visit the Basque Country this weekend. La Real won their opening match 1-0 at Cadiz last weekend and have made some impressive signings in the summer. Traditionally a trip to San Sebastian was one of the toughest games of the season for Barcelona and the Catalans went between 2011 and 2018 without winning a league clash in this corner of the Basque Country. Since breaking that winless run however, the Blaugrana have racked up two wins and a draw at the Reale Arena and the visitors are offered at 11/10 (2.10) with bet365 to claim three points. Last season was an impressive one for La Real who finished sixth in the table qualifying for the Europa League.
They enjoyed a strong campaign despite having the lowest total of goals scored at home in the entire division, netting just 16 times in front of their own fans. They did though boast the best defensive record at home conceding just nine times, keeping 14 clean sheets in 19 games. Barcelona know therefore they could be in for a difficult evening in breaking down one of the strongest defensive units in Spain, and despite the attacking talent on display their could be some interest in opposing a high scoring game. Real Sociedad: The club started the season off with a fine 1-0 win at Cadiz where they dictated the pace, dominated possession and had their way at times. Now they need to keep going on that path where they keep the ball centrally and look to play long balls over the top. Barça’s can lack organization at times, and with fullbacks who push forward, Real Sociedad can exploit those spaces and win this match.
Barça: A poor opening match leaves them hungry, wanting to show their potential in what could be a tricky contest. Expect them to play a bit more direct, though you will still see the ball on the wing plenty. It comes down to simply putting away their chances they will inevitably create, but another stumble and the questions will increase. Midfielder Sergio Busquets is suspended for the match after picking up a red card in the opener. La Real find themselves ahead of the Catalan club after a 1-0 win against Cadiz away from home. The Basques will also be aided by the fact that Barcelona’s star defensive acquisition Jules Kounde will face a second straight weekend on the sidelines with the player still not registered with LaLiga. Real Sociedad have shown steady progress under the guidance of coach Imanol Alguacil and the team will be looking to maintain their perfect start to the season against a Barcelona team that are still finding its their feet. Barca were frustrated 0-0 at home against Rayo Vallecano on the opening weekend, while Real Sociedad recorded a solid 1-0 win away to Cadiz.
After finishing sixth in La Liga last season, there is plenty of optimism surrounding Real Sociedad’s chances of pushing for a Champions League qualification spot this season. Los Txuri-Urdin started last campaign brilliantly before ultimately falling away to the Europa League places, although there is certainly no shame in that for a club which was competing in the second-tier as recently as 2010. Under Imanol Alguacil’s tutelage, Real Sociedad have gradually improved since his appointment as head coach in 2018, with the 51-year-old guiding them to a top-half finish in each of his four full seasons in charge. Last season’s points total of 62 was exactly the same as the prior season, so the clear challenge this time around is to improve on that and try to close the gap on the top four teams in La Liga in the process. After beating Cadiz 1-0 on the road last weekend through Takefusa Kubo’s 24th-minute strike, Alguacil’s side have the perfect opportunity to prove they achieve exactly that when they take on Barca at Anoeta Stadium on Sunday.
If Real Sociedad represent calm and steady progression having spent modestly over the years, Barcelona could hardly provide a more stark contrast after yet another busy summer in Catalonia. Despite amassing significant debt in recent years, president Joan Laporta has spent close to £150m bringing Jules Kounde, Raphinha and Robert Lewandowski to the club during the current transfer window, with Andreas Christensen and Franck Kessie also joining on big wages having signed on free transfer deals. There is a clear lack of organisation and joined-up thinking at the club, though, with Kounde unlikely to be registered for the second weekend running as the club desperately tries to clear the wage bill to make room for the former Sevilla defender in their squad. Off-the-pitch disruption often finds itself disrupting matters on the pitch, and that certainly looked to be the case at Nou Camp last weekend. Despite having 21 shots and 68% possession against Rayo, there was a lack of fluidity throughout the proceedings as Xavi’s side failed to break their stubborn opponents down.
In fairness, with three new signings named in the starting XI, a lack of chemistry was perhaps to be expected. The 42-year-old will be hoping big-money signings Raphinha and Lewandowski improve after another week of settling into their new surroundings, but they clearly face a step up in class when they arrive in the Basque country this weekend. Real Sociedad will remain without their key attacker Mikel Oyarzabal, who is unlikely to return until at least mid-October after rupturing his cruciate ligament. Diego Rico was withdrawn late on against Cadiz with a hamstring issue and will almost certainly join Alex Sola and Carlos Hernandez on the sidelines with the same injury, while Martin Merquelanz has a problem with his knee. Aihen Munoz is likely to replace Rico at left-back, but otherwise Alguacil will not want to change a winning team, with David Silva’s movement between the lines set to be key to unlocking Barca in transition.
With Sergio Busquets suspended after receiving a second yellow card in injury-time against Rayo, that could be especially true on Sunday, with no natural replacement for the Spain international. After making positive impacts from the bench, Xavi could look to both Frenkie De Jong and Kessie to start alongside Pedri in midfield, with Gavi making way after a below-par performance.Likewise, Eric Garcia could be benched to allow Sergio Araujo to move inside into his favoured central role, with Sergio Roberto the obvious introduction at right-back to provide more natural ability in possession. In attack, Raphinha and Lewandowski will almost certainly start once again, but Ansu Fati may be preferred to Ousmane Dembele on the left flank after an extremely bright cameo last time out, especially with Ferran Torres still fighting for full fitness after suffering a foot injury in pre-season.
Real Sociedad possible starting lineup:
Remiro; Elustondo, Zubeldia, Le Normand, Munoz; Zubimendi, Mendez, Merino; Silva; Isak, Kubo
Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Roberto, Christensen, Araujo, Alba; De Jong, Kessie, Pedri; Raphinha, Lewandowski, Fati