Real Sociedad 0-1 Barcelona: Full-time report
Half-time in the Copa del Rey quarter-final tie between Real Sociedad and Barcelona. We will return to Barcelona and to the Camp Nou for the second half and second leg of the tie. As it turns out, an early penalty won and converted by Neymar was enough to give Barcelona the edge in the game. A lazy tackle by Elustondo gifted the visitors the lead in the 21st minute and it was all Barcelona would need on the night.
Real Sociedad would have been hoping for a repeat performance of the drawn game at the Anoeta in November but they started slow and they never managed to get beyond third gear. Barcelona did well to control a large chunk of possession but Willian Jose was wasteful and they coughed up the ball too many times on the break to have really deserved more from this game.
Barcelona, who did not perform anywhere near their best, did enough on the night and will bring the away goal back home but will know they have plenty to work on if they are to a) beat Real Sociedad and b) win the competition. It was a disjointed performance in attack from Messi, Neymar and Suarez with the Brazilian acting as the catalyst for much of the night for Barcelona. Messi was stifled and Suarez was mediocre. Their cause was not helped when Iniesta went off at half-time. They travel to Eibar at the weekend and will need to improve on Thursday night's performance if they want to bag three points. Real Sociedad welcome Celta Vigo to the Anoeta and will also have an eye on improving if they are to trouble the Galicians.
Real Sociedad 0-1 Barcelona: Second half
Min 90 | Zurutuza with the outswinging cross, meets Illarra's head but it goes wide. He got a good run at that and got plenty of power on the header.
Min 89 | Pique fouls Oyarzabal but hurts himself in the process. He gathers himself and trots back to the penalty area. Free incoming.
Min 86 | A slick move between Messi and Neymar frees the latter and he chips the ball into Pique. He volleys the first with his left before it rebounds for him to try on his right. More intent with the right-footed volley but it is the same result. Corner for Barça.
Min 84 | The grand total of 0 shots on target for Real Sociedad tonight. Cillessen won't even have to do a cool-down.
Min 82 | Real Sociedad looking more and more dangerous. They still can't manage to trouble Cillessen though. Yuri the latest to smash a shot over the bar.
Real Sociedad substitution - Willian Jose makes way for David Concha.
Min 80 | It's Messi with his left foot but he can't keep the ball down. Rulli not troubled, but it was close.
Min 78 | Illarra with a desperation foul on Messi as he slinks past him. Neymar looking like he wants a cut off it.
Real Sociedad substitution - Prieto comes off for Sergio Canales.
75 minute update - Real Sociedad and the fans finally get moving but it might be too little too late at this point. They are pressing Barcelona and trying to force the issue. The Neymar penalty remains the only separating factor in this match and Barça have looked far from invincible in the second half.
Min 73 | All sorts of action in the Barcelona penalty area. Willian Jose takes to Barça players down before passing the ball in an offside position. Zurutuza is fouled but the whistle has already gone. It's looks like a battlefield out there with bodies strewn everywhere.
Real Sociedad substitution - Juanmi enters the fray and replaces Carlos Vela as Eusebio makes his first move on the chess board.
Min 70 | Illarra whips a cross in after Vela is fouled. Barcelona clear again.
Barcelona substitution - Denis Suarez comes on in place of Ivan Rakitic. Only Sergio Busquets remains from Barça's starting midfield.
Min 67 | Oyarzabal breaks and plays it to Willian Jose but an unfortunate bounce of the ball catches him out and it comes off his shin as he loses possession.
Min 65 | Neymar right in the middle of the trouble now as he appears to elbow Elustondo before being clipped on the heel by Vela. Replays show he was not touched; that's not a great look for Neymar. He rolls around on the ground 10 or 11 times before getting up and having a chat to the referee.
Min 64 | Plenty of action up the other end now. First, Rulli collides with Suarez and he looks for a penalty - no dice. Then Neymar looks for a penalty as he falls at the hands of Rulli - gets booked for a dive.
Min 63 | Zurutuza plays it to Yuri and he slides it temptingly across goal. Oyarzabal can't reach it though.
Min 62 | Dreadful pass by Cillessen gives the ball back to Real Sociedad but Illarra can't make anything of it. Excellent chance for the hosts there as Barça were caught off guard.
60 minute update - Real Sociedad do seem to be figuring out how they want to play and are executing far better than they did in the first half. Having said that, Barcelona still look dangerous but might be missing the presence of Andres Iniesta. Remains quite a sloppy affair.
Min 59 | Barcelona step forward from the crossed free and there are four Real Sociedad men offside. None of them, however, was Zurutuza, who the ball lands to. He rightly protests that he was not in an offside position but the linesman has made up his mind.
Min 58 | Rakitic impedes Yuri in a dangerous position for a cross.
Min 57 | Messi races through, back-heels it to Neymar and Baça's number 11 tries to curl one beyond Rulli. He misjudges it and it goes well wide. Good move from the visitors.
Min 54 | Xavi Prieto has a shot on goal from a cross that is blocked by Digne. It looks to have hit his arm but referee not convinced.
Min 52 | Real Sociedad have looked competent in every area so far tonight exceot for upfront. Everything falling apart once it reaches the final third. Willian Jose can't keep control of it and putting pressure on every other area of the field for them.
Min 50 | Neymar with an expertly-timed run in behind La Real's defense and he is clean through on goal. His last touch is too heavy and Rulli gathers. Neymar is inspired tonight and full of energy.
Min 48 | Iñigo Martinez with a high foot and he gives away the free-kick. Barcelona trying to build again.
Min 46 | Neymar takes a bang to the head as he clashes heads with Elustondo. He is back on his feet, however, and ready to carry on.
Min 46 | Peep. We are back underway at the Anoeta.
One change for Barça at half-time as Andre Gomes comes on in place of Andres Iniesta.
Real Sociedad 0-1 Barcelona: First half summary
Very little separating these two teams except for a moment of madness by Elustondo as he took Neymar's legs from under him in the penalty area. Real Sociedad have not looked like the fluid and confident side we saw in the same fixture during the league game in November. They have grown into the game and chiseled out a few chances for themselves, but very little to boast about. Barcelona do look dangerous on the break but are only slightly less sluggish than their opponents. They can afford to be, however, because of Neymar's early goal. Let's hope the second half picks up and Real Sociedad display some of the purpose they showed the last time Barcelona visited San Sebastián.
Real Sociedad 0-1 FC Barcelona: First half
Min 44 | Raul Navas gets his head to a cross and, while Cillessen looked calm as he waved it away, it might have been closer than it looked.
Min 43 | Messi wants a yellow for the culprit who fouled him. He begs and pleads with the referee for the yellow....and he gets it. The referee issues a yellow to the Argentine for his protestations.
Min 42 | Messi fights a raft of tackles (mostly fouls) but is halted eventually and the referee gives him a free. There was no advantage forthcoming and Messi ran out of steam.
Min 40 | Replays of the Neymar tackle by Elustondo show he should have had a free but the referee might not have liked the delayed fall by the Brazilian.
Min 38 | Neymar convinced he should have a free after he is tackled by Elustondo. Referee not budging this time.
Min 36 | Vela lays it off to Illarra and his shot is deflected for a corner. La Real seem to be coming to life as Willian Jose gets a head to the corner but can't direct it towards Barça's goal.
Min 32 | Neymar bundles over by Vela and gets a free. Eusebio, Vela, and the home crowd think he was looking for that. The only man that matters though, the ref, says it was.
30 minute update - The goal from the spot by Neymar has spurred Real Sociedad on but they are really struggling to get a foothold in this game. It suits Barcelona down to the ground because the more they push forward and launch themselves into tackles, the more likely the visitors are to catch them on the break. The age-old conundrum - do Real Sociedad go all-out to score or weight up their options? Seems they are opting for the former.
Min 27 | Vela coughs up possession in a decent position out wide to the left and he wants a free, but Luis Suarez is not waiting around to see what the ref thinks. He starts an attack but Real Sociedad manage to clear again. The game is opening up slightly now and the home crowd are getting louder after a few decisions that have gone against them.
Min 24 | Resulting free-kick sees a Rakitic effort go wide but there was an infraction before that. Free out.
Min 23 | Messi fouled by Yuri and has the ball kicked at his arm while he is on the ground. He is not happy and gives the Real Sociedad player a little chest bump to let him no of his displeasure. Word to the wise - don't get Messi angry.
GOAL! GOAL! GOAL! Neymar wins the penalty and then sends Rulli the opposite way as he nestles it in the side netting. Great penalty by the Brazilian.
Min 20 | Penalty for Barça as Neymar breaks free and gets his legs taken from under him by Elustondo.
Min 18 | Messi tries to pop the ball into Suarez, who had beaten the offside trap but a Real Sociedad defender gets in the way. Could have spelled trouble for the home side if that ball made it to the Uruguyuan.
15 minute update - A very sloppy start to the game by both teams with neither threatening their opponents goal. Pushed for an answer, I would say Barcelona have starte better but it is marginal. Two similar sides trying to impose a similar style on the game. We will have to see who prevails!
Min 14 | Willian Jose with an outside of the boot cross but it seems to catch Pique on the hand while traveling towards its intended target. No free, but not for the lack of protests by Willian Jose.
Min 12 | Sergi Roberto launches a hopeful, but dangerous cross into Real Sociedad's penalty area but it is cleared with no Barcelona players there to take advanatge of the ball.
Min 11 | Oiarzabal takes advantage of some slack passing at the back by Umtiti but he blazes over.
Min 10 | Neymar comes in from behind Vela and takes him down illegally. Free out and a handshake between the pair and we are off again. Neither team imposing themselves on this one yet. It has been quite sloppy. Managers' tactics are yet to reveal themselves.
Min 8 | Neymar looking for some space in La Real's penalty area. He pokes it to Messi but the quarters are too close and he miscontrols it.
Min 8 | A ball in behind looking for Rakitic has too much pace on it and Rulli races out to claim it as his own.
Min 6 | Willian Jose looks for Oryazabal with a cross but it's too high and goes out tamely for a goalkick.
Min 4 | Luis Suarez tries to make inroads down the right hand side but he is stopped and it goes out for a corner. Messi's shot from the corner pops up to Rulli and La Real restart.
Luis Enrique looking chilly, but cool, on the sideline with his hipster scarf and beanie hat. Just the 1 degree at the Anoeta tonight.
Min 1 | We are underway at the Anoeta.
Real Sociedad - FC Barcelona: Team news
Real Sociedad XI: Rulli, Illarra, Iñigo Martinez, Prieto, Carlos Vela, Willian Jose, Aritz, Zurutuza, Oyarzabal, Yuri, Raul Navas.
Barcelona XI: Cillessen, Sergi Roberto, Umtiti, Pique, Digne, Rakitic, Sergio, Iniesta, Suarez, Messi, Neymar.
Real Sociedad - FC Barcelona: Latest news
21:10 | Atletico Madrid have just beaten Eibar 3-0 at the Calderon. I can't see them conceding three at the Ipurua so that should see them through to the semi-final.
20:59 | Just to add a little spice to the mix, of course, Eusebio is coming up against his former club. He played for Barça from 1988 until 1995, acted as an assistant there under Frank Rijkaard and then returned once more to manage their B team. Spicy as a jalapeño.
20:49 | Messi will want to keep his fine run of socring form going. At the weekend, he scored against his 35th LaLiga side, equalling a record set by Real Madrid imitable hero, Raul Gonzalez.
20:42 | Oh, and Carlos Vela had a pop at MSN by saying, "three of their players work less” and he said that Real Sociedad knew they could hurt them provided they kept the ball. You'd have to wonder do Barcça players remember those words? You'd have to think they do.
20:33 | Do you want to know just how dominant Real Sociedad were the last time these two teams played? After the game, Luis Enrique said, "We took a point from a game that was practically impossible to get a point from. Change the shirts and you wouldn’t think that the other team was Barcelona. They were infinitely better than us."
20:33 | Cillessen, of course, gets the nod ahead of Ter Stegen as he has been appointed the Cup keeper by Luis Enrique.
20:17 | Carlos Vela makes it despite concern over his fitness - a knee issue. Willian Jose will play up front with the scintillating Oyarzabal to add his support from the left.
20:11 | The big news from a Barça point of view is that Ivan Rakitic starts. He has been out of favour for some time now but gets an excellent chance tonight. He is alongside the tried and tested duo of Busquets and Iniesta. Aside from that, Digne plays for Jordi Alba but it's business as usual up front with MSN starting together again after Neymar's rest/dropping at the weekend.
19:56 | Arda Turan is in the squad tonight but Barcelona are not ruling out a a move to China for the Turkish midfielder. Exceptional at Atletico Madrid but he has struggled with BArcelona. They will demand €30 million for his services though.
19:27 | Luis Enrique has given goal-shy Neymar his full backing. The Brazilian was dropped for the game against Las Palmas at the weekend but played well against Real Sociedad the last time the sides faced each other. He should return to the starting line-up tonight and will want to prove Enrique right for backing him.
19:05 | There has been somewhat of a furore recently over the future of Lionel Messi. Barcelona are, rather shabbily, allowing his contract to run dangerously low but the little genius' father has eased worries. He said there is no way his son is leaving the club.
17:55 | Just under three and a half hours until kick-off in the Basque Country - can we point you in the direction of our match preview below?
16:35 | Real Sociedad coach Eusebio Sacristán looked ahead to tonight's game in his pre-match press conference yesterday, and lamented the timing of the clash against his former club...
15:30 | The last time Barcelona went to Anoeta, they got absolutely battered - but still came away with a 1-1 draw. Would they take that tonight? Probably. (The result, that is; not the battering.)
14:03 | A reminder that the interview you may have read yesterday about Barça star, Lionel Messi, was found to be false.
13:07 | La Real have a great recent record against Barça at the Anoeta: 5 wins, 3 draws, 0 losses
12:25 | Good news off the field for FC Barcelona as they jump ahead of their big Spanish rivals, Madrid, in the Deloitte rich list announced this morning.
11:45 | With the festivities in San Sebastian coinciding with the game, Real Sociedad are planning to stage a pre-Copa drum parade at Anoeta.
10:55 | Wondering how to get some background noise and pictures to our live-feed? Here's how.
09:46 | Squad news from Luis Enrique had Vidal missing, even after his strong showing at the weekend. Maybe he's being saved for the league!
08:53 | In the pre-match press conference, Barça head coach, Luis Enrique praised the overall contribution of Neymar who hasn't been amongst the goals as most expected.
08:10 | After last night's shock result at the Bernabéu, Barcelona will be aiming to lay down a strong marker in Anoeta tonight.
Real Sociedad - FC Barcelona: Match preview
Ten years is a long time in football. But that's precisely the time-frame that one has to go back to to recall the last Barça win in San Sebastian. Luis Enrique may not look to repeat that result from May 5th 2007 (0-2) and indeed the Asturian coach would possibly settle for a narrow defeat with a 2-1 scoreline not necessarily being a disaster for the Catalan side as was the case in the round of sixteen where they saw off Athletic Club with limited problems following a 2-1 reverse at San Mames.
Just two recent high scoring defeats (1-5 loss at Riazor and a 0-4 home defeat to Sevilla) blot the copybook of one of the form teams in Spain with Eusebio's side winning seven of the past ten games. That ten game stretch also included a 1-1 draw against Barça where "Los Txuridun" outclassed the current league and cup holders who were lucky to escape from Anoeta with a point.
Real Sociedad come into tonight's cup tie complaining of less rest than their visitors at Anoeta after the Basque side were in LaLiga action in Malaga on Monday.
Eusebio may still be unwilling to risk Mexican striker Carlos Vela tonight and is set to opt for a front pairing of Juanmi and club top marksman this season Willian Jose.
In his pre-match press conference , La Real coach Eusibio confirmed his sides ambitions in the Spanish cup: "We're very happy with how things have been going for us, and we are very hopeful about doing well in this Cup tie. Our intention is to make the the semi-final - we are motivated and we are really going to go for it"
This is the first time we've been outclassed admitted Barça coach Luis Enrique after his side were fortunate to leave Anoeta when his side faced La Real in November 2016.
Back in the squad for the cup tie are: Gerard Piqué, Denis Suárez, Sergi Roberto and Jordi Masip and after a sitting out Saturday's demolition over Las Palmas at home, Brazilian striker Neymar is anticipated to return to the starting eleven and team up with Messi and Luis Suarez in the Barça front-line.
In his pre-match analysis, Barça head-coach Luis Enrique was full of praise for Eusebio, the coach, who for many will be the person to succeed him at the Catalan club: It's true that against Real Sociedad we haven't done so well, they have been superior to us, especially in the league and we will need to manage their pressing, and win the battle for midfield; they're a side who are good at playing a short-passing game, but they are also good at playing a long-ball game if you let them play. As a unit, they pressurize well whenever they lose possession - Eusebio's doing a great job.
Real Sociedad - Barcelona: Possible starting line-ups
Real Sociedad XI: Rulli, Elustondo, Raul Navas, Iñigo Martinez, Yuri, Illaramendi, Xabi Prieto, Oyarzabal, Zurutuza, Willian Jose, Juanmi.
Barcelona XI: Ter Stegen, Jordi Alba, Mascherano, Pique, Sergi Roberto, Rakitic, Busquets, Gomes, Messi, Neymar, Suarez.