Messi drags Barça to a precious victory over La Real
Barcelona 1-0 Real Sociedad: as it happened
Peeep peeep peeep!
Barcelona are overnight LaLiga leaders after a win which they were made to work extremely hard for.
In what was a very even game at the Camp Nou, Lionel Messi's late penalty finally edged it for Barça, ensuring the hosts got back to winning ways to move two points clear of Real Madrid, who play Real Betis on Sunday.
Barça also had a late Jordi Alba strike ruled out for offside, but a two-goal margin of victory would have been very harsh on a Real Sociedad side whose attacking endeavour merited a share of the spoils, in truth.
Be sure to join us for Madrid's trip to Seville - our live-text coverage will start about an hour before the game's 21:00 CET kick-off.
Thanks for reading!
Yep, VAR rules Alba's goal out for offside against Fati, who was marginally beyond the last man when Messi played the ball to him.
2-0 would have flattered Barcelona, to be fair.
Messi leads the Barça break and releases Fati into space behind the defence. The youngster gets to the byline, cuts back inside and feeds the ball back across goal, where Jordi Alba taps home...
...but it looks like Fati was offside.
Le Normand tries to dink a ball into the box for Portu, but Barcelona clear, and set off on what will surely be the final attack of the game...
Ansu Fati slips the ball to Messi on the edge of the box. Just for a moment, it looks like he's going to jink his way through about six blue and white shirts, before his touch finally lets him down and it runs out for a goal-kick.
Real Sociedad win a corner. A chance for a dramatic equaliser, perhaps? No, Ter Stegen punches clear.
Back come Sociedad, though, feeding Monreal in space on the left wing, where he delivers a low cross that's hacked clear.
The visitors then work it to Monreal again, but his near-post ball towards Portu comes to nought. They're going down swinging.
There'll be five minutes of time added on at the Camp Nou.
Barcelona make their final change, and it's a defensive one as Quique Setién replaces Martin Braithwaite with Junior Firpo. Braithwaite comes off to warm applause after a lively performance.
Busquets is booked for a foul on Odegaard.
On comes Fati, for Griezmann.
Now Real Sociedad are appealing for a penalty after Monreal tumbles under Griezmann's challenge... but the referee says no, nein and non.
Ansu Fati is preparing to come on for Barcelona.
Real Sociedad respond to that goal by bringing on Willian José for Isak.
Oyarzabal was booked in the wake of that penalty award, by the way. Presumably for a little bit too much lip.
Messi steps up, and Messi scores! Remiro goes the right way, but can't get a hand to it.
Barcelona will be mightily, mightily relieved if they win this. They've been in a game, it's fair to say.
Hold on, the referee is coming across to the pitchside monitor to have a look at an apparent handball by Le Normand in the Real Sociedad box, which happened moments before that Monreal chance.
Now Monreal goes close for Real Sociedad! They've come roaring back into this, and find the former Arsenal man is in acres of space at the back of the box. However, he drags his shot across goal and wide!
Guevara is into the book for tugging back Messi.
Again Isak carves Barça open, exchanging passes with Odegaard before advancing into shooting space just inside the box - but firing over! That was a real good chance for the Swede, and the visitors are now responded well to Barça's recent spell of pressure.
Barça take off Rakitic, Arturo Vidal replacing the Croat.
Barcelona have had the better of it in recent minutes, but back come Real Sociedad with not one, but two openings.
First, Isak steams down the left and crosses low towards Portu, who is all alone in the middle of the area. However, Lenglet just gets there in time to block.
Moments later, Oyarzabal fires one just over from 20 yards out.
Real Sociedad bring Igor Zubeldia on for Diego Llorente.
Aguacil looks like he's preparing a sub or two. Barcelona have been on top in the past few minutes.
Messi plays a one-two before advancing towards the top of the box in age-old Messi fashion. He shifts it wide to Alba, who crosses low to the far post... but Rakitic can't quite reach the ball to touch it into an empty net!
Merino and Piqué are then both down in a heap after an aerial challenge, but after some initial concern - particularly over the former - they look like they'll be OK.
Barcelona have shifted up a gear. Griezmann drifts a ball towards the back of the box towards Piqué, but he can't quite get on the end of it. Messi then crosses for the defender to get his head on it, but Remiro collects!
A minute later, Rakitic is inches away from turning the ball home!
Rakitic goes close! Messi barrels his way into the box, before the ball falls loose for the Croat to strike - but Remiro beats his effort behind!
Piqué is not a happy bunny when he is penalised, and booked, after an aerial challenge with Merino. Real Sociedad have the opportunity to play it into the mixer... but Odegaard's delivery is cleared with relative ease.
There's another chance for Messi... but he can't keep it down. It's played into the box, where Griezmann twice challenges for the headed ball before it drops to Messi six yards or so out. His shot is high, though!
Oyarzabal is now on for Real Sociedad. Barrenetxea makes way, having put in a very, very decent display at the Camp Nou.
This is end to end. Messi wins a free-kick off Merino, who is booked for his troubles. It's a decent set-piece chance for the Argentine... but his clipped effort is headed away.
Back come Real Sociedad - and Odegaard should be giving Ter Stegen work to do there. Isak sprints towards the Blaugrana box and cuts the ball back to the penalty spot, where the Norwegian is in position to shoot. However, he can't get his feet sorted out, and scuffs a harmless, bobbling attempt at goal. A waste.
Barcelona finally get themselves on the attack, De Jong drifting a ball towards the back of the box that Semedo can't quite reach.
Moments lateter, though, the hosts carve out a much better opening. Alba cuts it back to the top of the box, where Messi is waiting to control and shoot with his weaker right - but his effort flies just past the top corner!
Real Sociedad keep it for a good 90 seconds or so, drawing a few whistles from the home crowd. They stroke it about with some aplomb before Portu crosses towards Isak, and Piqué heads it clear.
La Real immediately win it back, and Odegaard almost gets himself into a shooting position in the box after exchanging passes with Portu.
Piqué looks like he's struggling; he's holding his neck and grimacing more than a little.
Portu skins Lenglet and Busquets before dinking it into the box towards Gorosabel, but Barcelona get it behind via the Real Sociedad right-back, and have a goal-kick. Lovely wing play by Portu, though. The away side have started the second half much the brighter.
Barrenetxea immediately scampers down the left wing and takes on Semedo, before cutting inside and shooting well off target.
No half-time changes for either side.
Peeeep! Back up and running.
Real Sociedad's Mikel Oyarzabal has been warming up not unvigorously, but remains among the substitutes as referee Juan Martínez Munuera gets the second half going at the Camp Nou.
That's half time at the Camp Nou, where it has been very even and very watchable. See you in 15.
Busquets is penalised for an elbow on Merino, and Real Sociedad have a chance to swing it into the box.
Odegaard delivers towards Llorente... but the flag is up for offside. Barça give it right back to the visitors, though, and Gorosabel scuttles past Alba and into dangerous crossing space on the byline.
However, his low ball is deflected out for a corner, which the hosts finally get clear.
Messi is the second man to go into the book, after a lunging tackle on Merino.
Close! It's good combination play from Barcelona, and that's the nearest they've come to scoring. Alba crosses low to Braithwaite, who touches it back to De Jong. The Dutchman's first-time ball then finds Messi on the penalty spot... but he steers his shot just past the post!
Monreal crosses low into the box to Isak, who spins and gets his shot away, but sees his effort bounce back off Piqué.
Barça respond by getting Braithwaite running down the left-hand channel at a back-pedalling Real Sociedad defence, but his low cross is a mite too close to Remiro.
The Dane is certainly getting himself into dangerous positions. "He's just lacked that little bit of quality," say our commentary team on Spanish TV.
Messi controls in the box, but Merino is perfectly placed to disposses the Argentine. Excellent defensive-midfield play.
Messi wants - but isn't getting - a free-kick on the edge of the box after tumbling under Llorente's challenge. Real Sociedad clear and feed it to Barrenetxea on the left wing, where the youngster digs out a lovely, lovely ball over the Barça defence for Portu to run on to.
With Ter Stegen haring out of his goal, all it needs is a touch from the forward - but he can't quite reach it! What a fine pass that was from Barrenetxea.
Imanol Alguacil will surely be very happy with this first half an hour or so.
Rakitic pings a shot just wide from 20 yards out, before Messi goes oh so close! The Argentine does ever so well to win it back on the left touchline, before cutting back inside, exchanging passes with Busquets and shooting from an angle - but Remiro beats his close-range effort behind!
Braithwaite heads the corner a couple of yards wide.
That's very good play from the visitors. Merino clips a lovely reverse pass into Barrenetxea's run into the box, before the teenager looks up and crosses onto Isak's head... but he nods well off target! Real Sociedad are giving as good as they're getting here, if not a little better, in fact.
Messi, De Jong and Alba exchange passes in front of the Real Sociedad defence on the left, but the visitors deal with it before launching an attack of their own. Odegaard slips a neat ball into the box to Portu, who tries to flick it on to Gorosabel... but Lenglet is in the way.
Moments later, Odegaard drifts a far-post cross towards Isak that is just a touch too long. It's a good game, though.
Back come Barcelona. Braithwaite feeds Rakitic to clip one into the box, but the Croat's cross is straight at a blue and white shirt.
Isak leads a dangerous break for Real Sociedad but, with two team-mates waiting for a pass, the Swede hesitates just a moment too long and allows the Barcelona defence to get itself into position to block his shot.
It's an open game, this.
Clément Lenglet is booked for scything down Portu. That means he'll miss Barcelona's next league game, away to Real Mallorca next Saturday.
Braithwaite looks like he's up for this. Again fed by Messi, his first touch takes him past Diego Llorente and he shows excellent pace to fend off the defender and get his shot away from just inside the area - but he can't quite hold if it.
The Camp Nou faithful certainly seem to be liking what they're seeing from the recent signing.
There's the first opening for Barcelona, and it's Martin Braithwaite with the shot. Lionel Messi advances into the Real Sociedad half and slips the ball wide to the Dane, who gets it out of his feet and pings a low effort towards Álex Remiro's near post. La Real's goalkeeper is quickly down to block.
La Real have had an encouraging first 10 minutes or so, but that's the clearest chance so far.
Odegaard is looking lively here, twice sending in crosses that the Barcelona defence have to look lively to deal with. It's been a promising start by Real Sociedad.
Marc-André ter Stegen gets himself in a tangle as he brings the ball out, but although he momentarily concedes possession back to Real Sociedad, the visitors can making nothing of it. A let-off for the German.
Alexander Isak feeds Martin Odegaard on the edge of the area and the Norwegian looks to burst past Frenkie de Jong and into shooting space... but the Barcelona midfielder gets his shoulder in and forces the ball out for a goal-kick.
Bright early attacking play from Isak and Odegaard, nonetheless.
Peeeeeep! Underway at the Camp Nou!
Ready to go...
The teams are out and ready to kick off at the Camp Nou, where, for the second game in succession, under-fire Barcelona president has been given a jolly good pre-match jeering by a section of the home support.
Barcelona vs Real Sociedad: how and where to watch?
Should you be wondering how and where to watch this evening's game, then you may wish to take a look at our useful guide on that very subject.
Camp Nou a veritable Barça fortress
Meanwhile, Barça may have suffered three defeats in their last five on the road, but they remain very, very strong at home.
Indeed, the Catalans have not lost a competitive fixture at the Camp Nou since a 4-3 reverse to Real Betis in November 2018 - some 37 matches ago.
Ah yes, and they have won their last 23 at home against Real Sociedad.
Txuri-Urdin haven't won away to Barcelona in nearly 30 years
...there is no escaping that Real Sociedad have a truly terrible record at the Camp Nou: they have not beaten Barça on their own patch since John Aldridge (two) and the late Dalian Atkinson got the goals in a 3-1 victory back in May 1991.
La Real can go provisionally fourth...
Following Atlético Madrid's 2-2 draw with Sevilla today, indeed, a win this evening for La Real would see them provisionally leapfrog Diego Simeone's men and Getafe into fourth (Los Azulones host Celta Vigo at 21:00 CET tonight).
La Real riding high after reaching Copa final
Real Sociedad, on the other hand, travel to Barcelona on a high, after Wednesday's 1-0 win at Mirandés sealed a 3-1 aggregate triumph in their Copa del Rey semi-final against the third-tier outfit, and set up a final against Athletic Bilbao - the competition's first ever all-Basque trophy decider.
What's more, Imanol Alguacil's men are currently on a run of three straight wins in LaLiga, having despatched Athletic Bilbao, Valencia and Real Valladolid in February to head into this weekend just the two points off the Champions League places.
(Photo: PAULINO ORIBE/DIARIO AS)
Potty-mouthed Sarabia comes under fire
On top of that, Setién's assistant, Eder Sarabia, has come in for plenty of attention after his livewire touchline performance in last weekend's Clásico.
Caught on camera hitting his players with one expletive-ridden tirade after another during a volcanic display, Sarabia's antics were "a bit embarrassing", Setién admitted in his pre-match conference yesterday, adding that his number two must "control the way he expresses himself".
"He's working on it," Setién told an interview with the newspaper El Periódico earlier in the week. "We have apologised to everyone we need to apologise to."
Barça out to bounce back from Clásico defeat
As I say, tonight's game pits two sides against each other who are in very different places right now. For hosts Barcelona, defeat to Madrid last time out continued what has been a far from unconvincing start to life under new boss Setién - and meant they relinquished top spot in LaLiga to their arch rivals.
Indeed, having also been knocked out of the Copa since Setién's arrival in January, and laboured to a 1-1 draw with Napoli in the first leg of the Champions League last 16, there have been reports in the Catalan media that the squad have already lost faith in Ernesto Valverde's successor.
(Photo: DIARIO AS)
Oyarzabal on bench for much-changed La Real
Meanwhile, Real Sociedad boss Imanol Alguacil makes no fewer than six changes to the team that saw off Mirandés in the Copa del Rey in midweek, as Andoni Gorosabel, Diego Llorente, Ander Guevara, Portu, Ander Barrenetxea and Alexander Isak are all brought in to the visitors' starting XI.
Influential Mikel Oyarzabal is among those who drop to the bench; central defender Aritz Elustondo has been ruled out with an injury.
Three changes for Barcelona as Braithwaite gets first start
Barcelona head coach Quique Setién makes three changes to the side that began Sunday's Clásico defeat to Real Madrid, as Clément Lenglet, Ivan Rakitic and Martin Braithwaite come in for Samuel Umtiti, the injured Arthur, and Arturo Vidal. Having made substitute appearances against Madrid and in the 5-0 win over Eibar, emergency signing Braithwaite gets his first start for the Blaugrana.
(Photo: Gorka Leiza/AS)
Real Sociedad team news
Starting line-up: Remiro, Gorosabel, Llorente, Le Normand, Monreal, Merino, Guevera, Portu, Odegaard, Barrenetxea, Isak
Substitutes: Willian José, Zubeldia, Januzaj, Oyarzabal, Muñoz, Moyà, Zaldúa
Barcelona team news
Starting line-up: Ter Stegen, Semedo, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba, Busquets, Rakitic, De Jong, Messi, Braithwaite, Griezmann
Substitutes: Umtiti, Firpo, Fati, Vidal, Collado, Neto, Puig
Barcelona vs Real Sociedad: ¡bienvenidos!
Welcome to our live coverage of Barcelona vs Real Sociedad from the Camp Nou, as two sides in very different frames of mind face off in LaLiga.
Kick-off in Catalonia is at 18:30 CET, just under an hour from now, and the team news is in. So let's start with that...