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The dramatic 3-0 victory at home over Bayern Munich in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final is still fresh in the memory yet the blaugranes cannot afford to rest on their laurels with their attention turning back to the league on Saturday with the visit of Real Sociedad to Camp Nou. Barça are just two points ahead of Real Madrid in the table with just three games remaining in the 2014/15 league campaign. Against the Basques victory is essential for Luis Enrique’s side to continue to have their fate in their own hands.
Luis Enrique has has decided to leave out Masip, Montoya, Douglas and Rakitic, as well as the injured Mathieu, who is still having trouble with his right Achilles tendon.
The complete squad is thus as follows: Ter Stegen, Bravo, Dani Alves, Adriano, Alba, Piqué, Bartra, Mascherano, Vermaelen, Sergio, Xavi, Iniesta, Sergi Roberto, Rafinha, Pedro, Neymar Jr, Suárez and Messi. This is therefore the first time that Thomas Vermaelen has been called up a Liga match, after also featuring in the midweek squad against Bayern Munich.
Real Sociedad travelled to Barcelona on Friday following their final training session of the week ahead of the trip to take on the league leaders. Coach David Moyes has Mikel González available following a successful appeal against the one game ban imposed due to his red card in the Basque derby ten days ago against Athletic Bilbao. The entire squad has made the journey to Barcelona with only David Zurutuza missing after recently undergoing knee surgery. Moyes, like his counterpart Luis Enrique, will name his 18 man squad for the clash on the day of the game.
Barça boss Luis Enrique spoke to the press on the day of his 45th birthday on Friday. The Asturian as ever urged for caution in the light of Wednesday’s euphoric victory in the Champions League: “When the end of the season comes we’ll be able to assess whether we’ve been able to achieve our goals." The coach also revealed himself to be aware of the possible pitfalls of the game against Real Sociedad; "It is true that the games after an intense Champions League match can be dangerous but being near the end of the league makes this game extremely important to us. The key to winning this league is to get the three points."
Real Sociedad coach David Moyes led his team to victory over the blaugranes in just his sixth game in charge of the txuri-urdin after replacing the sacked Jagoba Arrasate. The Scotsman was bullish about his team’s chances at Camp Nou: “We have beaten them once already at Anoeta and I believe we can do it again.” On the threat posed by Leo Messi, Moyes echoed the words of Bayern coach Pep Guardiola earlier in the week. “Nobody can stop Messi, there are days when he is not at his best but he is one of the greatest players there has ever been in the history of the game.”
Barça are on their best league run of the season as they are unbeaten in their last 11 games, with ten victories and a draw in that time. In fact, since losing 1-0 to Real Sociedad back in January, the blaugranes have won 26 of 28 matches in all competitions, drawing once and losing just once.
Real Sociedad have gone three games without defeat in the league, a run that includes draws with Villarreal and Basque rivals Athletic, and most recently a 3-0 win at home over Levante. However, in recent months they have struggled away from home, winning just one of their last 19 games on the road in the league - a 1-0 win at Getafe in March.
FC Barcelona have won 16 straight home league meetings with the side from San Sebastián. The Basque have only ever won three encounters with the blaugranes at Camp Nou, the most recent coming in 1991 when two goals from John Aldridge and one from Dalian Atkinson handed la Real a 3-1 win. Last season the two sides met twice at Camp Nou: the blaugranes won 4-1 in the league in September 2013 and 2-0 in the Spanish Cup semi-final first leg in February 2014. Barça keeper Claudio Bravo started in goal for Real Sociedad on their last five visits to Camp Nou, conceding 17 goals in the process. Leo Messi, for his part, has scored six goals at home in his last four matches against Saturday’s visitors.
No matter where you are in the world we have you covered. And remember, you can enjoy live commentary in English on Radio Barça. The link will appear at fcbarcelona.com just before kick-off. Twitter users can follow @FCBarcelona for a live feed of all the action.
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