Jordi Alba redirected a Sergio Canales cross into his own net in the second minute for the game’s only score as FC Barcelona fell 1-0 to Real Sociedad at Anoeta, squandering a golden opportunity to move into first place in the league table.
The fans had barely taken their seats on a cold and rainy evening when Real Sociedad took the early lead. The wet field conditions that normally aid the quick-passing style of FC Barcelona’s formidable attack may have been the biggest factor in the own goal, as the ball looked to skip off Alba’s head without the precision that might be expected under normal circumstances.
Barça took the field knowing that a win would vault them into first place in La Liga after Real Madrid fell 2-1 at Valencia earlier in the day. Leo Messi and Neymar, two of the last players to rejoin the team after the winter holiday, did not start the match.
Immediately following the goal, Barça settled in and began to hog possession while Real Sociedad slowly began to form a wall on defence. Real Sociedad managed to keep Barça away from any really dangerous chances, as the Catalans pushed deeper with each passing minute.
Messi came on for Munir to start the second half and was quickly followed by Neymar, who substituted Pedro just shy of 60 minutes. But the addition of Barça’s top two scorers didn’t have the desired effect. Real Socieded buckled down and, although Barça’s offensive hunger became more apparent, the hosts were able to keep their defence well organised. Around the 70th minute the game opened up with both sides taking bigger risks. That sequence, which lasted around five minutes, gave Barça more opportunities, but they couldn’t muster a truly great scoring chance.
The final minutes saw Barça threatening more than they had all night. Luis Suárez came excruciatingly close in minute 87 but his header was slapped away with a quick reaction from Real Sociedad’s keeper Rulli.