Barcelona will welcome Real Sociedad to Spotify Camp Nou for their Copa del Rey quarter-final clash on Wednesday.
La Liga leaders Barcelona will welcome Real Sociedad to Spotify Camp Nou as they attempt to win a record-breaking 32nd Copa Del Rey title this season.
Xavi Hernandez’s side swept aside lower league side AD Ceuta in the Round of 16 and looked every bit a side keen on securing the trophy. Having won the competition thrice in Blaugrana colours, the Barcelona boss knows exactly what it takes to go all the way.
Barcelona were drawn against Sant Joan d’ Alacant and Ceuta in the competition so far, a far cry from top-level domestic opposition. The former gave the Catalans a run for their money, and the thumping dismantling of Ceuta proved that the lesson was learnt.
Real Sociedad made it to the quarter-finals after defeating fellow La Liga side RCD Mallorca in the previous round. La Real have won the prestigious trophy three times in their history, the most recent of which came in 2019/20.
Imanol Alguacil’s side were knocked out in the quarter-final stage last season and will hope to go at least one better this time. The trip to Spotify Camp Nou will not be easy, and Real Sociedad will need at their best to come out on top.
With eight wins on the trot across all competitions, Real Sociedad arrive at Barcelona in high spirits. Barcelona struggled to a 1-0 win over Getafe at the weekend and have shown trouble against sides that take the game to them. The Hard Tackle looks at how both sides could line up on the night and what tactics they might employ.
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— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) January 24, 2023
Xavi will welcome back Robert Lewandowski and Ferran Torres after the duo served part of their La Liga suspensions against Getafe. Barcelona’s lone injury concern will be that of Andreas Christensen, who was taken off against Getafe with a hamstring issue.
The Dane is expected to be named in the squad but appears unlikely to start the game. This could see Ronald Araujo return to the starting eleven for the game. Xavi has an otherwise full-strength squad to choose from.
Barcelona were afforded the luxury to field weaker sides against lower league oppositions in the competition so far. They cannot afford to be so cavalier against Real Sociedad and are likely to reinstate some recognisable names to the eleven.
The Catalans look set to deploy in a 4-3-3 formation with Marc-Andre ter Stegen in goal. The quartet of Jules Kounde, Ronaldo Araujo, Eric Garcia and Jordi Alba will form the backline.
Sergio Busquets will form the pivot in midfield, with Pedri and Frenkie de Jong on either side. Robert Lewandowski found the back of the net twice against Ceuta and will lead the line on the night. He should be flanked by Ousmane Dembele and Raphinha upfront.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): ter Stegen; Kounde, Araujo, Garcia, Alba; Pedri, Busquets, de Jong; Raphinha, Lewandowski, Dembele
La Real have a lengthy injury list and will be without several players for the game. David Silva is the latest addition to the list which includes Martin Merquelanz, Mohamed-Ali Cho, Alex Sola, Mikel Merino, Andoni Gorosabel, Jon Pacheco, Ander Guevara and Sadiq Umar.
It is not all doom and gloom as Real Sociedad can call upon Mikel Oyarzabal, who continues to recover from his ligament injury. Takefusa Kubo was rested against Rayo Vallecano and should return, while Martin Zubimendi should return from suspension More so, the visitors are also coming off the back of an eight-game winning streak, adding momentum and impetus to their morale.
— Real Sociedad 🇺🇸 🇬🇧 (@RealSociedadEN) January 24, 2023
Imanol Alguacil’s side have built their success thanks to a solid rearguard that has seemed nigh on unbreakable at times. Real Sociedad are likely to set up in a 4-3-3 formation, matching Barcelona player to player.
Alex Remiro should start in goal behind the formidable back four of Aritz Elustondo, Igor Zubeldia, Robin Le Normand and Diego Rico. Brais Mendez, Asier Illarramendi and Barcelona-linked Martin Zubimendi should form the midfield trio and will be involved in a battle of the wits against Sergio Busquets and co. Whoever comes out on top should dictate the pace of the game.
The trio of Ander Barrenetxea, Alexander Sorloth and Oyarzabal should form the frontline. Barcelona are far from secure at the back, and the right application could make life easier for the visitors.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Remiro; Elustondo, Zubeldia, Le Normand, Rico; Mendez, Illarramendi, Zubimendi; Barrenetxea, Sorloth, Oyarzabal
- Barcelona and Real Sociedad have won the Copa del Rey a combined 34 times. This is the most of any match-up in this season’s quarter-final draw.
- Barcelona are the most successful side in the history of the Copa Del Rey, winning the trophy 31 times.
- Barcelona are one of only three teams to win the competition four years in a row. They are also the only side to do so in the post-World War II era.
- Real Sociedad have conceded just one goal in their last 630 minutes of competitive football.
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The Polish striker is by far Barcelona’s reliable goalscorer and has been singlehandedly responsible for their prowess upfront this season. He found the back of the net twice against AD Ceuta and was also afforded a rest against Getafe due to his suspension.
Lewandowski will be raring to go and will prove to be a difficult player for Real Sociedad to pin down. The visitors’ defence has appeared impregnable at times but will be put to the test against Lewandowski. As long as the veteran turns up, Barcelona have a chance against any side in world football, let alone Real Sociedad.
Barcelona 2-0 Real Sociedad
While Real Sociedad will prove to be dogged opponents, they have a huge injury list and will be without several top players. Barcelona, on the other hand, have an almost full roster to choose from and will be raring to go.
The home side’s strength in depth combined with their match-winners should swing the tie in Barcelona’s favour. While it will not be easy, Xavi Hernandez’s men should take another step towards a 32nd Copa del Rey crown.