Barcelona - Real Sociedad: preview, team news, starting XIs

Barcelona will aim to regain the lead in LaLiga against an in-form La Real side who are in the Copa del Rey final and have won their last three on the bounce.

Barcelona - Real Sociedad: preview, team news, starting XIs

Barcelona host Real Sociedad on Saturday as Quique Setién’s side seek to bounce back from defeat in last weekend’s Clásico and regain the lead at the top of the Liga table overnight with Real Madrid facing a potentially tricky trip to an unpredictable Betis side who thumped in-form Sociedad 3-0 a few games ago but haven’t tasted victory since.

Barça are in a mini-crisis on the pitch after losing the Clásico and being dumped out of Copa del Rey quarter-finals by Athletic – the bread sandwiching an unpalatable 1-1 draw away at swashbuckling Napoli in the Champions League – and there have been rumblings that the squad are not entirely on board with Setién’s hard-wired tactical stylings. Whether that is true or not, the former Betis and Las Palmas coach has not fashioned the second coming of Johan Cruyff’s dream team and when Barça have won since his arrival it has been in largely unconvincing style, a Leo Messi-inspired 5-0 drubbing of Eibar aside.

Neither does Setién possess a raft of resources with just 15 fit senior players and a supporting cast of Barça B cadets who beyond Ansu Fati have barely got further than the bench. Compounding Setién’s woes is the prospect of three of his defenders - Samuel Umtiti, Clément Lenglet and Jordi Alba – being a caution away from suspension for the trip to Mallorca next weekend. Alexander Isak, Mikel Oyarzabal and Martin Odegaard are unlikely to be sympathetic.

Sociedad may not hold the same fear for Barça that they did between 2011 and 2018, when they went unbeaten at Anoeta and laid the occasional glove on Saturday’s opposition at Camp Nou but the Basque side are in rude health, sitting sixth in the league and reaching the Copa final for the first time in 32 years.

The visitors have won their last three Liga outings on the bounce, have beaten Atlético and Real Madrid and held Ernesto Valverde’s Barça to a 2-2 draw earlier in the season.

Barcelona starting XI vs Real Sociedad

Ter Stegen, Semedo, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba, Busquets, Rakitic, De Jong, Messi, Braithwaite, Griezmann. 

Real Sociedad starting XI vs Barcelona

Remiro, Gorosabel, Llorente, Le Normand, Monreal, Merino, Guevera, Portu, Odegaard, Barrenetxea, Isak. 

Barcelona vs Real Sociedad: injuries and suspensions

Setién is without Ousmane Dembélé, Luis Suárez, Sergi Roberto and Arthur for the visit of Sociedad, with Imanol only missing Asier Illaramendi and Diego Llorente.