PREVIEW | FC Barcelona v Real Sociedad

PREVIEW | FC Barcelona v Real Sociedad

Spotify Camp Nou hosts the first of four remaining games for a team that is already confirmed as champions

The pressure was already easing off in the last few games, as FC Barcelona moved into such a strong position in the league table that it was becoming just a matter of time before they'd be confirmed as champions. But it wasn't a mathematical certainty until last week at the RCDE Stadium.

Barça have already done the victory parade. They've already had the celebration dinner. But there are still four games to play and with the pressure well and truly off, they'll be looking to enjoy themselves and try to push for as strong as finish as possible. And that starts with the Saturday 9pm CEST kick-off at home to Real Sociedad.

And this is an especially important one, because it's the first home fixture as official champions. It's partly a game like any other, and it's partly a victory celebration. Party time at Spotify Camp Nou!

And when it's all over, do stick around! That's because first team captain Sergio Busquets, who is retiring at the end of the season, will be collecting the club's 27th Liga trophy.

Real Sociedad

This should be a cracking fixture, Real Sociedad are in the hunt for a Champions League berth next season, currently fourth in the table, five points clear of Villarreal. After a very strong start to the campaign, their form dropped off a little mid-season, when they also crashed out of the Europa League at the hands of Roma.

But since losing the derby with Athletic, they have won three and drawn two of their last five fixtures. Those games included the 2-0 defeat of Real Madrid that as good as ended any chance of the all-whites catching up with runaway Liga leaders Barça.

Real have only ever played in the Champions League twice before, and not at all since 2013/14, when they failed to make it out of the groups. So while Barça are essentially only playing for honour, this is a HUGE day for the visitors. They key, really, is whether having the pressure lifted will make Barça harder to easier to beat. And sorry, Real, we're all hoping it's the former!

Head to head

Barça have a fantastic record against Real Sociedad of late. In the last 17 meetings, in three different competitions, they have not been beaten once, the last win for the Basques dating all the way back to Liga encounter in San Sebastian that ended 1-0.

At home, Barça have not lost to Real since 1990/91. The side coached by Johan Cruyff, and with a number of former Real players in its ranks, lost 3-1 in one of the final games of the season, but it wasn't enough to prevent the Catalans from going on to win the first of four consecutive league titles. Since then, Real have only managed one measly draw at Spotify Camp Nou in 28 attempts.

Earlier this season, Barça powered their way to 4-1 victory in their first road trip of the competition. Robert Lewandowski scored in the first minute, but Alexander Isak (now of Newcastle) replied just five minutes later. But another goal from the Pole and two more from Ousmane Dembélé and Ansu Fati secured a big win for Barça.

Dembélé was also on target when the sides met in the quarter finals of this year's Copa del Rey, scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win.

Team news

After the amazing luxury in the last match of having his full squad available for selection, Xavi has a couple of absentees to deal with this time. Pedri and Ronald Araujo are both nursing minor injuries (thigh and calf respectively) and will be sitting this one out.

Xavi says

"The victory parade the other day was incredible. It's a long time since we had something so big to celebrate and the fans were clearly very happy. Some of the players had never experienced anything like that before and it made them realise how big this club really is."

"We may be collecting the trophy tomorrow but we also have a game to play and still have other targets to aim for. Our defensive record, the Pichichi, the Zamora. They were never our main targets but they are still nice."

"I wouldn't call us a defensive team. We have been excellent in defence but the players know that this team is all about attacking football."


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