BARCELONA

As El Clásico looms, Barça toil against Real Sociedad

Despite drawing on Saturday, Valverde's side were second best against La Real in terms of midfield domination, normally one of their strengths.

As El Clásico looms, Barça toil against Real Sociedad
ANDER GILLENEA AFP

Barcelona came away from Anoeta with a point on Saturday against one of LaLiga's most improved sides this campaign, Imanol Alguacil's Real Sociedad

Possession and pass completion

However, a 2-2 draw filled with incident doesn't tell the story of two sides on level pegging - Barça were outmuscled in areas they usually dominate. For the first time this season, Barcelona's rivals had more possession of the ball (53% to 47%), and were better in their link-up play, completing 563 passes to Barcelona's 497

Barcelona's erratic midfield

These numbers can be explained by an erratic performance by Frenkie de Jong, one of his worst in a Barça shirt, and Rakitic, who was unable to bring balance and experience to Valverde's midfield. Only Sergio Busquets was able to contain Real Sociedad's accomplished central pairing of Ander Guevara and Martin Odegaard.