FC Barcelona host Real Sociedad in the second leg of their Copa del Rey quarter final on Thursday 26 January at 9.15pm CET after the first leg ended in 1-0 victory for the Catalans.
Real Sociedad are from the picturesque seaside city of San Sebastián in the Basque Country, only about 20km from the French border.
Real was originally founded as the football section of the San Sebastián Recreation Club in 1905. King Alfonso XIII regularly spent his summer vacations in the city and in 1909 endorsed the club’s current name of Real Sociedad de Fútbol, which translated to English means the ‘Royal Football Society’.
The 32,300 capacity Anoeta replaced the old Atocha ground in 1993. Plans were recently approved to see the ground expanded by about another 10,000 seats, which will also include removal of the athletics track.
Eusebio Sacristán is a familiar face at Barça. From 1988 to 1995 he made over 200 appearances for the legendary Dream Team, and in 2011 replaced Luis Enrique as manager of Barça B. He remained in the job until 2015, when he left to replace David Moyes in the Real hotseat.
Competing under the name of the San Sebastián Cycling Club, the Basques won their first Spanish Cup title in 1909. In almost a century since then, they have only lifted the trophy one other time, when they beat Atlético Madrid on penalties in the 1987 final.
Real beat Valladolid 4-2 on aggregate in the opening match of their cup campaign, and beat Villarreal by the same score in the round of 16.
There was a time when San Sebastian was a regular source of Barça talent, including the triple package of José María Bakero, ‘Txiki’ Begiristain and López Rekarte in 1988, all of whom were firm favourites in Barcelona. But since Bosnian Meho Kodro made the move to the Camp Nou for a relatively quiet 1995/96 season, the once famous Real-Barça connection seems to have dried up.
Englishman Harry Lowe became the oldest player ever to appear in La Liga in 1935. He was actually Real Sociedad’s 48-year-old manager in 1935 but when one of the eleven-man travelling party got sick before a game with Valencia (there were no substitutes in those days), he decided to put his boots on and join the team on the field!