FC Barcelona travel to Real Sociedad on Sunday and it’s very much an away game with a difference. These days, we have grown used to the build-up to blaugrana fixtures featuring a host of positive stats – how many years it has been since the Catalans have not lost to a certain team, how many goals the members of the trident have scored against them, what an excellent track record Luis Enrique has in the fixture…
But the history of recent trips to Anoeta makes for surprisingly bleak reading. The Catalans have not won a league game in San Sebastian since a 2-0 victory way back in 2006/07. From that game, only Andrés Iniesta (who scored that day) and Leo Messi are still at the club.
Although the ten-year drought at Anoeta did include a period when Real were in the second division, and hence Barça didn’t play them, that’s still six games in the trot, five defeats and one draw, in which Barça have failed to collect the three points.
The sides also met in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey in 2014. That was a happier day on the Basque coast for Barça because they clinched a place in the final, but even so they didn’t lift the Anoeta ‘curse’. After a 2-0 first leg win at the Camp Nou, it was a 1-1 draw in the return that secured passage – making it sevens visits in all competitions in which Barça have failed to beat Real on their home patch.
Under former Barça B boss Eusebio Sacristán, Real have got off to a fine start in LaLiga, and are currently fifth with a decent haul of 22 points, 12 of which were secured in what is currently a four-game winning spree, including an impressive 2-0 defeat of Atlético Madrid. William José and Carlos Vela, with six and four goals this term respectively, lead the scoring in one of the most fashionable squads in the league right now.
All in all, it’s a tricky challenge for Barcelona, but with Real Madrid having already done their pre-Clásico duty with a 2-1 defeat of Sporting Gijón, there is a more pressing need than ever for the negative run at Real Sociedad to come to an end.