Barcelona 3-2 Real Sociedad: Full time report
In the end it proved impossible to maintain the high tempo of a pulsating first half and Barcelona possibly had one eye on the visit of Serie A giants Juventus as the Catalan side strive to turnaround a 3-0 reverse from the first leg in Turin.
In the end despite their dominance in terms of possession in the second 45'. La Real lacked the predatory instinct to hunt down an equaliser that on the balance of play Eusebio's side possibly deserved.
Barcelona move to within three points of table topping Real Madrid and Luis Enrique's side face a week that will determine their 2016/17 season with the two biggest games for the Catalan's on Wednesday and Sunday. Neymar will be back for the midweek tie but Barça will need to up their game if they are to secure the win that is imperative in next Sunday's El Clasico.
Real Sociedad themselves still aim for a Europa League spot and the battle for sixth place is set to be a Basque three way tussle with themselves and Athletic and Eibar.
Barcelona 3-2 Real Sociedad: second half live
Min 93 | That's it, full time at Camp Nou and Barça secure maximum points
Min 92 | Luis Suarez on a one on one with Rulli sees his well placed shot saved by the young keeper.
Min 91 | Great chance for Yuri to tie the game but the defender gets under the ball and hoofs over the bar. Last chance saloon there for the Basque outfit.
Min 90 | We'll have 3 minutes of time added on at Camp Nou.
Min 88 | Home fans chant "Si se puede" (yes we can) referring to turning the scoreline around against Juventus in the Champions League just as Pique is carded.
Min 86 | One gets the sense that time is running out for Real Sociedad just as Messi is upended and makes a decent claim for a penalty kick.
Min 83 | Zurutuza makes way for Granero as Esuebio's last throw of the dice.
Min 81 | Finally a Barça attack as Rakitic calls Rulli into action forcing the Argentine to save low from a rasping drive.
Min 79 | Change, this time for the home side as Alcacer makes way for Denis Suarez.
Min 77 | La Real set to make another change as Willian Jose makes way for Bautista.
Min 75 | Despite their dominance, still no reward for Eusebio's side as the clock ticks down and as we stand the points remain in the Catalan capital.
Min 72 | What vision from Xabi Prieto as he spots Ter Stegen off his line and launches a 35 yard drive that forces the German keeper to tip over.
Min 70 | Shift in possession stakes as the visitors now in charge of the ball with a 49/51% stat
Min 69 | Huge cheer for Iniesta ...another discreet performance from Gomes.
Min 68 | Iniesta set to make an entrance as Suarez is booked for a foul on Raul Navas.
Min 66 | Real Sociedad in the ascendancy now as Barcelona sitting deeper and unable to get their passing game together.
Min 64 | Canales is through on goal and instead of looking for the target the Cantabrian looks for a team-mate and the move breaks down.
Min 62 | A disappointing night for the Mexican player who never really got going this evening.
Min 61 | Canales on and Vela off for Real Sociedad
Min 60 | Possession: FCB 55/45% RSOC
Min 59 | A round of applause breaks out at Camp Nou as Andres Iniesta starts to warm up.
Min 55 | The pace of the game dropped ever so slightly after an electrifying first 45'. Real Sociedad still look dangerous but Barcelona still hold the edge in terms of possession and the all important score board.
Min 52 | The ball falls to Messi and the Argentinian striker uncharacteristically miskicks with the goal gaping.
Min 50 | Messi takes the resulting free-kick and drives a left foot shot which is easily dealt with by Rulli.
Min 49 | Card for Illara as he takes a tug of Leo Messi's number 10 shorts
Min 47 | Official attendance at Camp Nou this evening is: 81,704
Min 46 | No changes at the break and it's the Catalan side who get us underway.
Barcelona 3-2 Real Sociedad: half time analysis
An ode to attacking football is what we've been fortunate to witness at Camp Nou in this first 45 minutes this evening. After a bright first quarter of an hour, the floodgates opened and who else but Lionel Messi opened the scoring rifling home a venomous drive that left Rulli with no chance. Messi was on target again but his second of the night was a "messy" bundled home affair. La Real never stopped believing and were rewarded for their persistence as Iñigo Martinez had a ferocious drive ricochet off Samuel Umitti to get the Basque outfit off the mark. No sooner had play resumed than Barcelona a restored their two goal margin as Messi fed Alcacer who slotted home past Rulli. Just as we were looking forward to a half time breather, Eusebio's side were right back in the game as Xabi Prieto volleyed home an excellent team build up from Los Txuri-urdiun... Time for a lie down!
Barcelona 3-2 Real Sociedad: live
Min 46 | Another goal !!!! La Real pull another back as Xabi Prieto finishes off an excellent counter attack volleying into the corner of Ter Stegen's net.
Min 45 | An immediate response from the home side as La Real were recomposing themselves after their goal. Barça playing like this are irresistible!
Min 44 | Alcacer makes it 3 for Barça !
Min 43 | Gooooooooooool, La Real pull one back as Iñigo Martinez rifles a shot which Umtiti deflects into the net.
Min 40 | Alcacer booked for a tug on Vela. Dangerous freekick for La Real, which comes to nothing as Pique heads clear.
Min 37 | The No. 10 will never score an easier goal as the ball ricochets favourably from a Rulli save for the Argentine to tap home.
Min 36 | Goooool, Messi taps home into an open net.
Min 35 | A poor first touch from Andre Gomes denies the Portuguese player with a gift wrapped chance.
Min 34 | Sustained possession from the home team as they casually pass the ball around looking for an opening.
Min 31 | First corner for La Real as Ter Stegen spills the resulting kick but Zaldua overhits the subsequent ball and Barcelona can build again.
Min 30 | Possession: FCB 65/35% RSOC
Min 28 | Despite going behind to the earlier Messi strike, La Real are far from out of this contest as they continue to probe and look to Vela and Oyarzabal in attack.
Min 24 | A cheeky nutmeg from Xabi Prieto on Busquets starts a bright move for the Basque outfit as Oyarzabal runs out of ideas as the ball falls to Yuri whose shots is snuffed out by the Barça rear-guard.
Min 23 | Once again Oyarzabal providing the main attacking threat for La Real as he fires a shot but fails to secure the required direction to trouble the Barça keeper.
Min 20 | Barcelona come close again as Messi almost converts and the ball lands to Suarez who rockets a volley at the Real Sociedad rear-guard. Barça with the bit between their teeth.
Min 17 | A sublime strike from the Barcelona No. 10, as fine a hit as you could want with the ball nestling snugly in the corner of the Real Sociedad net leaving Rulli with no chance.
Min 17 | Goooooooooolllllll, Messsi, what a strike from the Argentine striker!
Min 14 | ...and again Ter Stegen is called into action as he safes (comfortably) from a long range Raul Navas strike. More pace to proceedings at Camp Nou tonight than we saw earlier at El Molinon.
Min 12 | Another great chance for the visitors as Willian Jose finds Oyarzabal and the young Eibar born player fires his shots straight at the German goalkeeper.
Min 11 | La Real keeper Rulli called into action on two occasions and saves admirably on both counts.
Min 9 | Long range speculative effort from Yuri who watches his drive sail high and over Ter Stegen's goal mouth.
Min 7 | Vela sails into Alcacer with his studs showing and earns the first card of the night.
Min 6 | A delightful ball from Messi finds Jordi Alba and the defender pulls his cross back too much as Suarez tumbles on the lush surface. What a pin point pass from the Barça No. 10 !
Min 4 | A bright open game which is always made easier by the expanse offered by the Camp Nou pitch.
Min 3 | Oyarzabal with the first chance of the night, taking an eternity to get his shot off and ultimately fired it straight at the Barça rear-guard.
Min 2 | Barça desperate for a win after two defeats on the bounce.
Min 1 | A packed looking Camp Nou as Martinuez Munuera whistles and we're underway.
Barcelona in their traditional azul/grana striped combo with blue shorts. La Real in their also traditional blue and white stripes.
The teams take to the pitch at Camp Nou as the FC Barcelona hymn rings out "Tot el camp es un clam ....."
Barcelona vs Real Sociedad: latest news
20:41 | Fancy a last minute flutter on the game at Camp Nou? A home win pays at 2/9, a draw at 11/2 and a win for the Basque side a handsome 12/1.
20:38 | Martinez Munera is tonight's match official
20:35 | A mild 16C in the Catalan capital and a 0% chance of precipitation at Camp Nou for the duration of the game.
20:30 | Hot on Barça's heels are Atletico Madrid who saw off Osasuna with no problems at the Calderon leaving the current LaLiga table looking like this.
20:00 | Good news for former Barcelona player Marc Batra as he leaves hospital
Confirmed Barcelona XI: Ter Stegen, Piqué, Rakitic, Sergio, Suárez, Messi, Alcácer, Alba, S.Roberto, A.Gomes & Umtiti
Confirmed Real Sociedad XI: Rulli, Illaramendi, Martinez, Prieto, Carlos Vela, Willian Jose, Zurutuza, Oyarzabal, Yuri, Raul Navas & Zaldua.
19:00 | Former Barça player David Villa scored a rather decent goal last night in MLS for NYCFC.
18:45 | La Real will be keen to take somnething from this game after being knocked out of sixth place by their regional neighbours Athletic Club, who thrashed Las Palmas 5-1 in Friday's game. The great Sepp Maier watched that game from the stands after being awarded Athletic's One Club Man award.
18:00 | More on that Dybala injury news: Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri has said the starlet has an ankle sprain, but appeared optimistic of his chances of making Wednesday's second leg at the Camp Nou.
17:55 | There were no real surprises in Eusebio's 18-man squad list for the game. Striker Juanmi sits the game out through suspension while injury has ruled out Carlos Martínez and Imanol Agirretxe.
17:40 | Looking ahead to next week, Barcelona might just have been handed a Champions League boost after Juventus' Paulo Dybala limped out of the Italians' Serie A win at Pescara today.
16:55 | As we pointed out at 13:40, Real Sociedad's record at the Camp Nou has not been good in recent years - so much so that Barcelona have posted 18 home league wins on the spin against the Basques.
15:38 | Barcelona boss Luis Enrique named an 18-man squad to face Real Sociedad early today - here's the full lowdown on who's in and who's out.
14:07 | Both of tonight's teams featured in our Five things to look out for in LaLiga this weekend.
13:40 | The bookmakers' odds on an away victory below may have something to do with the fact that today's visitors have not won in Barcelona in over a quarter of a century.
13:05 | Eusebio was wary about their trip to the Camp Nou given recent results:
“They will be keen to bounce back after the Juventus defeat and the best way to do that is by putting in a good game against us. I don’t know what will be going through their heads but we have to be ready to face a strong Barcelona"
12:54 | When the Barça manager did speak he was in positive mood but acknowledged the challenge that they face:
“We will go up against one of the toughest opponents in the closing stages of the season for the way they attack and defend. They are a very tough side. We have trained well and I see my team as capable. We will not give up, we have to fight for everything until the very end. We want to have a chance of winning the league, and that begins with a win against Real Sociedad"
12:35 | Both managers took part in the customary pre-match press conferences yesterday but Luis Enrique didn't get the warmest of welcomes with whistles greeting his arrival. That's what happens when you keep them waiting.
12:10 | ...let's not forget that La Real have plenty to play for as they chase a Europa League spot.
12:08 | A question that will be answered in a few hours will be whether Barça start their home game tonight three, four or six points behind the leaders. Title-rivals Madrid are in Gijón to play Sporting and AS English is already building up to the live coverage.
11:45 | There are nine hours till kick-off which gives us plenty of time to fill your head with interesting information and useful news. Get yourself ahead of the rest by having a squizz at our preview below.
Barcelona vs Real Sociedad: match preview
Barcelona's season hangs in the balance. After a slip-up by Real Madrid against Atletico Madrid in the Madrid Derby, Barcelona needed to win against Málaga to regain the top spot in the top flight. They lost that game, and lost Neymar too to suspension after a red card. They lost 3-0 to Juventus just three days later in the Champions League and suddenly Luis Enrique is the captain of a sinking ship.
Real Sociedad were genuine contenders for the fourth spot in the Champions League but their form fell off a cliff at the end of February. They lost four of their next nine, drew two and won just three and now find themselves in a battle for the last Europa League place with Eibar and Athletic Bilbao making ground on their efforts.
Barcelona are without Neymar for the first of his three-match ban as they welcome Real Sociedad to the Camp Nou. As if regrouping after the Juventus defeat wasn't hard enough, they will also be missing Javier Mascherano, with Luis Enrique's defense in constant flux. Jeremy Mathieu was whipped off at half-time and it remains to be seen whether Luis Enrique opts for a back three or four against Real Sociedad, who can be lethal in front of goal.
Barcelona no longer have the title in their own hands, like they once did, and will be relying on dropped points by Real Madrid and a win in El Clásico next week to stand any chance of a third league title in as many years for Luis Enrique.
Eusebio travels to Camp Nou knowing that he was linked with the Barcelona job just weeks ago. He said he was not interested back then but with the next candidate for the Barcelona job remaining up for debate, and up for grabs, a win for Eusebio and a good performance could convince Barça's hierarchy that he is the man to lead them although it has to be said that he did recently sign a two-year contract extension with the Basque side where he says he is very happy.
La Real have not been short of attacking swagger this season. The return of Willian Jose's form and fitness will be a boost in the run-in. The Brazilian scored against Sporting Gijón last time out and was in excellent form prior to a couple of muscle injuries that have slowed him down.
Barcelona vs Real Sociedad: match facts
Barcelona have won their last 18 games at home against Real Sociedad in LaLiga. they have also scored 51 goals in that time.
Lionel Messi has scored eight goals in his last eight games against Real Sociedad at the Camp Nou.
Barcelona vs Real Sociedad: potential line-ups
Barcelona: Ter Stegen, Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Alba, Iniesta, Busquets, Rakitic, Messi, Suarez, Paco Alcacer.
Real Sociedad: Rulli, Elustondo, Navas, Martinez, Berchiche, Illarramendi, Zurutuza, prieto, Vela, Willian Jose, Oyarzabal.
Barcelona vs Real Sociedad: match odds
The visitors to Camp Nou today are being pitched at around 12/1 to take all three points with the draw at 6/1. Messi and Suárez clear favourites for first scorer but Carlos Vela is priced at 14/1.