La Liga champions Barcelona are all set to host fourth-placed Real Sociedad, who look to cement a spot in next year’s Champions League.
Real Sociedad will hit the road to square up against newly-crowned La Liga champions Barcelona. The visitors are currently fourth in the league and they will look to maintain their lead over fifth-placed Villarreal. Meanwhile, the home team will look to continue their good run in the league having already won the title. They will look to finish on a high.
Barcelona have undoubtedly been the dominant force in La Liga this season, showcasing their superiority with a remarkable record of 27 wins. With 85 points out of their 34 matches, they sit comfortably at the top of the table, 14 points clear of second-placed Real Madrid.
Their recent victory over Espanyol confirmed their status as champions, marking their first league title since 2019. Despite their success, the Catalan giants have faced disappointments in the Copa del Rey and European competitions. And that is something they will have to work on next season.
Meanwhile, this match holds greater significance for visitors Real Sociedad as they aim to secure a top-four spot in the league and secure Champions League football for the next season. They are currently fourth and have a five-point advantage over fifth-placed Villarreal.
Real Sociedad have been unbeaten in their last five matches. However, they were held to a 2-2 draw by Girona in their recent home match, leaving them vulnerable in their pursuit of a top-four finish. With challenging fixtures against Atletico Madrid and Sevilla looming, a defeat against Barcelona would further complicate their aspirations.
In the reverse fixture, Barcelona managed to thrash Real Sociedad 4-1. They were a dominant force in that fixture and will look to have a similar performance in this encounter. However, the visitors will be eager to avenge that loss and maintain their lead over the fifth-placed team. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at this fixture and tries to predict the tactics both teams could deploy.
Team News & Tactics
Xavi will be without the services of Gavi, who is suspended for this fixture. Meanwhile, Sergi Roberto, who returned to the bench in their last fixture, might feature against Real Sociedad. The Catalan giants do not really have any fresh injury concerns. And, despite having clinched the league title last time out, they might not make major changes to their XI.
Xavi talks about the parade and its significance to the fans and the team: pic.twitter.com/kCpHbLm9nj
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) May 19, 2023
Xavi will once again start with the 4-3-3 formation where Marc-Andre ter Stegen will be in goal. Jules Kounde and Alejandro Balde should continue as the full-backs. In the heart of defence, Andreas Christensen will pair up with Ronald Araujo. They have the best defence in the league and will look to continue the good work in this home game.
Veteran Sergio Busquets, who is all set to part with Barcelona, will start as the holding midfielder. He will have the support of Pedri and Frenkie de Jong in the centre of the park. Ousmane Dembele could start on the right wing. And with Gavi unavailable, Ferran Torres might get to start on the left. Meanwhile, Robert Lewandowski will continue as the leader of the attack.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Kounde, Araujo, Christensen, Balde; Pedri, Busquets, de Jong; Dembele, Lewandowski, Torres
The visitors will be without the services of Brais Mendez, Umar Sadiq and Martin Merquelanz who are all out injured. Apart from the three, all other players are available for this fixture. And, their manager Imanol Alguacil is expected to field an unchanged XI despite the disappointing draw last time out.
📋 Squad list for tomorrow’s match. AUPA REAL!!!#BarçaRealSociedad | #AurreraReala pic.twitter.com/KNTKebrvCR
— Real Sociedad 🇺🇸 🇬🇧 (@RealSociedadEN) May 19, 2023
Sociedad will start with the 4-4-2 formation, where Alex Remiro will be in goal. Andoni Gorosabel and Aihen Munoz are expected to be the full-backs. Meanwhile, Igor Zubeldia and Robin Le Normand will be the centre-back.
Takefusa Kubo and Mikel Oyarzabal will start out wide in the centre of the park. Martin Zubimendi and Mikel Merino will be the central midfielders. The duo will have to ensure that they dictate the pace of this game and do not allow Barcelona players to get on top. Meanwhile, David Silva will be in support of Alexander Sorloth in the attack.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Remiro; Gorosabel, Zubeldia, Le Normand, Munoz; Kubo, Zubimendi, Merino, Oyarzabal; David Silva, Sorloth
- Barcelona have the best defence in the league having conceded just 13 goals so far.
- The Catalan giants have only lost three matches out of their 34 league games.
- Barcelona have won 21 out of the last 31 matches against Real Sociedad.
- Xavi’s team are unbeaten in their last 13 matches against Real Sociedad in La Liga.
- Barcelona have an excellent home record against the visitors, having won each of their last 24 home matches.
Player to Watch
The Frenchman has struggled with injuries in the ongoing season. Despite his struggles, the 26-year-old has ten goal contributions in his 21 league games. He has found the back of the net on five occasions and also has five assists to his name.
Dembele is all set to return to starting XI for this fixture, and Xavi will hope that his ace forward produces the goods. He has the pace to cause a lot of trouble to the opposition and will have the support of Lewandowski in attack to do the damage.
Barcelona 2-0 Real Sociedad
Barcelona will enter the match with confidence and will be eager to end their successful campaign on a high note. Real Sociedad, on the other hand, will be determined to put up a fight and maintain their position in the league.
While Real Sociedad have a lot to play for, they might not have the needed quality to go past the Catalan giants who will look to continue their dominance at the top of the league. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-0 win for the newly-crowned La Liga champions.
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