Real Sociedad 1-1 FC Barcelona: match report
Not at the races, listless, jaded and outplayed. A synopsis of how the action unfolded at Anoeta this evening as once again the "curse" of the San Sebastian ground availed as another season passes by with the Catalan side unable to secure maximum points in the culinary capital of Spain.
A particularly poor first half from Luis Enrique's men was slightly bettered in the second period when the Catalan side looked dangerous as Neymar came into the game with mazy breakaways on the left hand side. La Real will point to a goal that was harshly ruled out after Juanmi popped the ball in the Barcelona net after a ferocious Carlos Vela drive ricocheted off the cross bar.
Eusebio's men were the undisputed better team during the contest stretching the league champions and defending will great resolve and only a well worked move with Neymar finding Messi who lashed home their only defensive chink during the ninety minutes.
Barça go into next Saturday's El Clasico six points behind Real Madrid and questions were being asked about Gerard Pique completing tonight's game as the defender was clearly struggling as the game wore on.
Real Sociedad march on, four wins and a draw in their past five matches sees the San Sebastian based outfit currently occupy an automatic Europa League place which based on tonight's performance the "Txuri-urdin" thoroughly deserve.
Real Sociedad 1-1 Barcelona (full time)
Man of the match: Carlos Vela (Real Sociedad)
Next up for Barça, the small matter of El Clasico, Saturday next.
Next up for Real Sociedad in LaLiga, an away trip to Riazor to face Deportivo.
Cheers for your company this evening and we'll wrap up events at Anoeta imminently with a summary chronicle of the match.
That's it, all square in Anoeta. Still no win as the "curse" persists. La Real very good value and move into fifth.
Min 93 | We're underway again as seconds remain at Anoeta. A draw not good for Barça.
Min 91 | Rulli currently getting attention after he collided with Illara. La Real have made all three changes.
Min 90 | Hat-trick from Granero has he whacks over from close out when it was easier to hit the target. Rustiness !
2 minutes to be added.
Min 88 | Barça brittle at the back and once again Granero shoots but easily gathered by Ter Stegen. Illara booked for a trip on Messi.
Min 86 | Shot from Granero for La Real but the former QPR player gets under the ball and hits over.
Min 84 | Suarez (Denis) into the book for a trip on Vela. The Mexican has been excellent tonight. Change in La Real ranks as Oyarzabal is replaced by Esteban Granero.
Min 83 | Just as I say that La Real break and Vela fires a shot off the post as it's now the home side with the drive.
Min 82 | Higher tempo now as Barça push for a winner.
Min 81 | Barça come close on two occasions as Suarez sees a shot cleared off the line and Mascherano nearly heads home.
Min 79 | Lightning counter from La Real as Yuri neither shoots nor crosses the final ball as the home side had men over. A let-off for FCB. There is a goal in this game yet ...
Min 77 | Barcelona look a very very tired side and are lucky to be level as repeats show that Juanmi was not offside when scoring.
Min 75 | The ball is in the Barça net but it's been ruled out... a drive off the bar from Vela and a tap home from the Juanmi who was adjudged to be offside.
Min 75 | Goalscorer Willian Jose off and "Juanmi" Jiminez his replacement
Min 74 | Neymar gets a shot on target for the visitors but the ball goes high and wide.
Substitute (La Real) Captain Xabi Prieto off and Canales on
Min 71 | Sergio Canales ready to make an entrance for the home side.
Min 68 | A lull in the play as both sides starting to show signs of tiredness with La Real content to retain the ball for a long spell as Barça sit and wait.
Min 66 | Possession 58-42 in favour of the home side.
Min 65 | Suarez has the ball in the net but the flag was up and a replay confirms that the decison was correct. Barça much better at present.
Min 63 | A frantic period which saw both sides score seems to have calmed down and a more regular tempo has returned to the Anoeta pitch.
Min 62 | Carlos Martinez fouls Neymar and is into Gil Manzano's book.
Great build up play from Neymar leading to the goal as Messi pounced on a breaking ball to drive home.
Min 59 | Gol, gol, gol as Messi rifles home into the corner and Barça are back in the game. (R.Sociedad 1- 1 Barcelona)
Min 58 | Barça react as Neymar earns a corner for his side. Plenty of noise from the "Txuri-urdin" faithful now.
Min 55 | Mascherano into the book for a trip on Vela, Barcelona clearly rattled by the goal !
Min 53 | Great build-up play from Vela as his shot is deflected by Ter Stegen into open play and the Brazilian heads high and the ball nestles in the Barça net despite Gerard Pique's best efforts on the goal line.
Min 53 | Willian Jose heads La Real ahead...gol gol gol.... 1-0
Min 49 | More purpose already from Barcelona as the now gloved Neymar finds Suarez who is upended to win a dangerous freekick for the visitors. Rulli dives to tip a fierce drive away from Neymar.
Min 46 | Just two (2!) shots from the Catalan side in the first half!
Min 46 | Denis Suarez set to come on for Barça as Rakitic makes way
Half time analysis
"The Curse of Anoeta"? Maybe, but something is not right with Luis Enrique's side this evening in San Sebastian as the men in claret and navy have been outplayed by a hungrier, faster and more effective Real Sociedad side.
The Messi, Suarez and Neymar trident have been anonymous for the first forty five minutes as the home side have taken the game to current LaLiga champions and despite never really testing Ter Stegen the Basque outfit have shown far more initiative at Anoeta. Two brief shocks for Barça as it appeared that Gerard Pique and earlier Alba would be forced to retire with possible injuries.
Half-time R.Sociedad 0-0 Barça | Gil Manzano calls time on proceedings. Plenty for Luis Enrique to ponder over as both sides head for the tunnel.
Min 45 | We'll have one minute of added time as Andre Gomes is carded for a foul on Willian Jose.
Min 44 | A corner for Barça, Messi magic as Carlos Martinez cuts the ball out. Mascherano fires on target and Barça win another corner. A late, late rally here from the visitors.
Min 43 | Rulli in the home goal has been a virtual spectator for the half.
Min 42 | Pique now back on the Anoeta pitch and seems to be running with no problem.
Min 40 | Pique is now up and looking to come back on. La Real have had 8 shots against a big fat 0 for the Catalan side. Still, it's all about the scoreboard !
Min 39 | Now Pique down clutching his knee. Alarm bells with El Clasico just 6 days. The defender calls for a change and seems in major distress....
Min 36 | Good news for Barça fans as Alba retakes to the pitch as the balls falls again to Oyarzabal in an identical position as his previous effort. Better this time but Ter Stegen un troubled by the speculative half-volley.
Min 35 | Corner count: Real Sociedad 5-0 Barça
Min 33 | Jordi Alba looks to be in trouble after a bad fall. The defender holding his knee as Vela (accidentally) collided with the Barça player. Play held up as Alba lims off for medical attention. Digne getting changed as a possible substitute.
Min 29 | Vela found in space and the Mexican was just bundled off the ball (legally) as he aimed to line up his shot. Very little so far from the M-S-N with the Barça No. 10 very quiet. Carlos Vela then takes a tumble in the Barça area and Gil Manzano correctly tells him to get up.
Min 28 | Unforced errors, mis-placed passes, they story of Barça's game so far...
Min 26 | A close call there as Zurutuza adjudged to be in an off-side position as he was through with just Ter Stegen to beat. Barça are simply not at the races.
Possession after 24': Real Sociedad 60% - FCB 40%
Min 21 | ...a minute later and another shot on goal for La Real. This time Iñigo Martinez getting in on the act with a left foot curler. Easy for the German keeper as the Barça stopper gets booked.
Min 20 | And now Carlos Vela comes close after latching on to a delightful midfield delivery, controls and drags his shot wide. Barça really at 6's & 7's.
Min 17 | Close up shot of a non-plussed Luis Enrique on the Barça bench as Yuri bamboozle the Barcelona side with a fine mazy run. The ball reaches Xabi Prieto again but this time the captain heads wide. All La Real at the moment !
Min 15 | Pique called into action yet again as he repels another Illara cross just as Xabi Prieto almost heads home but Ter Stegen does well to smother the downward header from the home side captain.
Min 12 | The "Curse of Anoeta"...maybe, but Barça certainly look uneasy this evening with as poor a start as I've seen from Luis Enrique's men all season.
Min 10 | All the early initiative coming from the home team as they earn another corner and subsequently Oyarzabal unable to keep his half volley on target as the ball flies into row Z.
Min 7 | Not quite a full-house at Anoeta tonight with 30.000 fans at the capacity 32.000 stadium.
Min 5 | Mix-up at the back as the usually realiable Pique slips up and the ball squirms out for a corner for the home side. La Real the brighter of the teams in this opening stage.
Min 3 | Barça opting to wear red socks this evening as opposed to the usual dark blue...one for the kit spotters out there ! Obviously the blue would clash with the home side's hosiery.
Min 2 | Real Sociedad in their classic blue and white striped shirts and Barça in the claret and navy as Ter Stegen gathers a header from Zurutuza.
Min 1 | Off we go at Anoeta, La Real get us underway.
Hello and welcome to our live coverage as we build-up towards this evening's LaLiga clash at Anoeta as Real Sociedad host Barcelona, with kick-off at 20.45 CET.
20:43 | Both sides are in the tunnel, the home side wearing special #YoNoTengoSegundoEquipo campaign t-shirts. The video for the campaign is excellent.
20:42 | One has to go back to May 5, 2007 for the last Barça win at Anoeta. A 0-2 that night for thge Catalan giants.
20:40 | The corresponding fixture last season produced a 1-0 for the home side with a fifth minute goal from Oyarzabal enough to keep all points in the Basque country.
20:35 | A nippy 9C in San Sebastian just prior to kick-off, the good news is that no rain is forecast during the course of the match.
20:30 | Tonight's game has huge implications at the top of the table as Real Sociedad could go fourth with what would be a fifth consecutive LaLiga win.
20:25 | Kick-off looming and tonight's pitch looking good as the North of Spain has been spared form the biblical deluge that the bulk of the Iberian penninsula has suffered all weekend.
Real Sociedad - Barcelona: confirmed teams
Real Sociedad: Rulli; Yuri, Inigo Martinez, Navas, Carlos Martinez; Zurutuza, Illarramendi, Prieto; Oyarzabal, Willian Jose, Vela.
19:31 | Here's a break-down of Barça's recent visits to San Sebastian.
19:00 | The "Curse of Anoeta" it's being called but Luis Enrique is not one for superstition!
18:20 | How does our resident pundit see events turning out at Anoeta this evening....
17:18 | Neymar is currently one booking away from missing El Clásico next weekend and, following his minor Ferrari incident earlier on Sunday, will have to focus on timing his tackles and and stepovers to perfection. Tonight's referee is Gil Manzano, who brandishes an average of 7.33 cards per game.
15:55 | Since La Real were promoted back to the top flight in 2009 following three seasons in the Liga Adelante, this fixture has been played six times with the Basque outfit winning five and one match ending in a draw - the September 2011 meeting finished 2-2 with Griezmann and Agirretxe scoring for the hosts, after Xavi and Cesc Fàbregas had put Barça two goals up.
13:35 | Real Sociedad coach Eusebio, who as a player spent seven seasons at Barcelona as part of the 'Dream Team', spoke very highly of his former club, saying: “Barca’s players are winners – they are used to meeting challenges and the most testing demands. Whatever challenge they are given, they want to overcome it. Past results won’t serve us, we need to continue the hard work we have been doing over the past few months. We must also be aware that, because Barcelona have not gained good results here in recent seasons, they will be eager to change that".
13:00 | Neymar suffered a prang in his Ferrari on his way to join up with the squad for the trip to San Sebastián but was unhurt and will be fine to play tonight in Anoeta.
Real Sociedad - Barcelona: preview
Eusebio Sacristán’s side have some previous already this season in terms of upsetting the apple cart of the big boys, having beaten Atlético Madrid convincingly in Anoeta. That win came in the midst of a healthy run of four wins the Basques are currently enjoying and although for most sides the visit of Barcelona would be as welcome as the proverbial fly in the soup, it is La Real who have been giving Sunday’s visitors indigestion for several years in San Sebastián.
Barcelona have not tasted victory in Anoeta since 2007. Luis Enrique’s side have failed to win any of their last six visits to La Real’s stadium, even when they were widely regarded as the best team in the world under Pep Guardiola and routinely seeing off all-comers. Enrique denied there is a curse hanging over his side in the picturesque seaside town, but the swell of the tide has been firmly in favour of La Real in recent years and that will play on the minds of the visitors. Add in the factor that Eusebio coached Barcelona B between 2011 and 2015, giving him unique insight into the workings of the club, and it becomes easier to see how he routinely thumbs his nose at the team he represented as a player for seven seasons.
Eusebio has guided his current side to the European places on the basis of some extremely solid home form, La Real conceding just five times in Anoeta this season. In Geronimo Rullí he has one of the most underrated keepers in the league and in front of the Argentinean is as solid as a central defensive partnership as any side in Spain possesses. In front of Iñigo Martínez and Raul Navas, Asier Illarramendi is one of the top ball-winners in the league this season and there are goals in midfield in the shape of David Zurutuza and Carlos Vela, another gold-star member of La Real’s rehab unit for gifted but unpredictable talents.
Up front, summer signing Willian José has found his feet in recent weeks, hitting three goals in his last four league outings and he is ably supported by the wiles of exciting winger Mikel Oyarzabal, who can give any full back a torrid time.
La Real’s record against Barcelona at Anoeta is one of the most remarkable in world football and it will not be surrendered lightly.
Barcelona are scarcely firing on all cylinders at the moment. Enrique’s side were held to a goalless draw at home by Málaga last weekend and required Leo Messi to see off Celtic in the Champions League in midweek. Add in a 1-0 win over Granada – a team ‘defensive’ Atlético put seven past a couple of weeks earlier – and you have yourself a bona fide drought.
The thirst for goals has been exacerbated by the lack of input from Neymar, who hasn’t found the net in his last five Liga outings, and the side’s overall play has sorely missed the influence of injured captain Andrés Iniesta.
Messi’s return to the side after illness ruled him out of the Málaga game gave Barça a lift in Glasgow but it will require the Argentinean’s best form to single-handedly overcome La Real.
Gerard Piqué should be fit to play after recovering from an ankle problem, only for it to flare up again in the Málaga draw, but Samuel Umtiti lost his race to be fit for the trip to San Sebastián and will join Iniesta, Jérémy Mathieu and Arda Turan on the list of absentees.
Enrique has also included 18-year-old Carles Aleñá, who has been dubbed the “new Iniesta” and Fluminense loanee Marlon Santos in his squad.
Real Sociedad - Barcelona: possible line-ups
Rulli; Yuri, Inigo Martinez, Navas, Carlos Martinez; Zurutuza, Illarramendi, Prieto; Oyarzabal, Willian Jose, Vela.
Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Mascherano, Jordi Alba; Busquets, Rakitic, André Gomes; Messi, Luis Suárez, Neymar.