Barca had little time to reflect on their 1-0 loss to Cadiz on Monday. Because just three days later, Barcelona would have to play another important match away against Real Sociedad.
The message was simple. Win, and you maintain your comfortable position on the La Liga table. Lose, and you make things very difficult for yourself throughout the remaining La Liga fixtures.
We wondered which Barca we’d see today. Especially after the club’s embarrassing loss to Cadiz earlier this week. Luckily, Barcelona found the answer pretty early on in the match vs Real Sociedad. At that time, the conclusion Barca gave us was nothing short of positive.
Through the first ten minutes of the opening half, there wasn’t much in the way of action.
Barca tried their best to establish possession and make their way into high danger areas. It didn’t come easy, but there were some moments that made Real Sociedad’s alarms begin to blare just a little bit.
The real action though, came in the 11th minute. As Barca secured an achievement that hasn’t been replicated since the dreaded international break.
An early goal.
Aubameyang returns to the scoresheet
Barca scored the first goal of the match by bringing out the unordinary.
After an Ousmane Dembele shot hit the post, the ball found its way to the outermost part of Real Sociedad’s penalty area.
A cross came in to a wide open Ferran Torres. Torres then surveyed his options, before lofting a beautiful, composed cross to an open Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Aubameyang — who was standing at the very far post — leaped high and calmly guided a soft header into the back of Real Sociedad’s net. The goal was Aubameyang’s 9th league goal in 11 league matches, a wonderful achievement for the current lead man in the Barca attack.
It was an early golden moment for Barca. One the club desperately needed due to their previously underwhelming results.
The goal silenced the Anoeta, and gave Barca a great moment to not only bask in the moment. But to also find an opportunity to take the match into their hands.
Just moments later, they almost did just that.
Barca squeezes Real Sociedad
After some beautiful link up play, Torres was at the forefront of another scoring chance. He made a nice run into the box, and positioned himself well to bring Barca’s total goal tally to two. But not after a brilliant pass from Dani Alves
However, the January arrival skied the shot, and the score remained 1-0.
After Torres’ miss, Barca continued to pile on the pressure. 25 minutes in, Frenkie De Jong just missed the net after sending a right footed shot just wide of the far post. 38 minutes in, Torres almost made up for his earlier mistake, as his right footed curling effort just missed the far post as well.
A short time later, it was Aubameyang who re-joined the party. The Gabonese international almost earned himself a brace, with his shot also missing the post by a short margin.
Barca was stacking on the pressure, and it almost felt inevitable that they’d score a second goal. But they failed to do so, as the first half drew to a close.
However, with a decent possession and shot advantage, things looked positive for Barca to break through in the second half. But once the second half began, Barca crumbled, both in terms of injuries and defensive stability.
And if it weren’t for the heroics of a certain German goalkeeper, the final result would’ve been much more disadvantageous for Barca.
After a first half full of positivity, Barca couldn’t have expected the chaos that awaited them in the second half.
Chaos unfolds for Barca
The first block that initiated the chain reaction of chaos was the blatant missed sitter by Alexander Sorloth. The Norwegian was found after a gorgeous cross by Adnan Januzaj. All Sorloth had to do after was calmly slot Januzaj’s cross into the back of the net.
But the cross rung off Sortloth’s foot and skied into the seats.
It was a a devastating miss, as if converted, the score would’ve been deadlocked at 1-1. But instead, the match remained 1-0, and left Real Sociedad still looking for their long awaited first goal.
Real Sociedad continued to put Barcelona under serious pressure. As they threatened the Blaugrana’s slim lead with each passing minute of possession.
The pressure sent shockwaves of anxiety throughout each Barca fan, as they watched their club struggle to contain the opposition’s fiery attack. But after 54 minutes played, Barca fans had another thing to worry about aside from sudden strenuous defensive job.
Injuries begin to bite Barca
The next wave of injuries began their arrival, and the victims were important members of Barca’s defense. Ronald Araujo had to be subbed off in the 55th minute after suffering an apparent knee injury. The extent of the injury is unclear, but it’s obvious that an injury to Araujo would be the most disastrous development possible for Barca.
Jordi Alba also showed some discomfort on the field. But he remained on and fought to help his team in any way possible.
Gerard Pique also looked uncomfortable on the field. He remained on the field, but his discomfort looked to be related to the same groin injury that has affected him for months now. The Spanish legend just returned after a two match absence, so him feeling uncomfortable was obviously a red flag.
But despite these injuries, Barca didn’t have time to rest. Real Sociedad continued their trek in the 58th minute, as a Sorloth shot was saved by Marc-Andre Ter Stegen. This save in particular was impressive, since Ter Stegen had to use the very tips of his left foot to knock away the shot and save Barca from an unwanted moment of frustration.
As time passed, Barca was faced with another injury development. Dani Alves stayed down, holding his leg after a painful challenge. He was forced off the field in favor of Sergino Dest, something that only added to Barca’s growing list of injuries.
Ter Stegen saves Barca
However, Real Sociedad once again prevented Barca from catching their breath. 69 minutes in, Ter Stegen was called to the rescue once more, as he prevented a whacky Januzaj cross from wandering into the back of the net.
Ter Stegen had to be called on a number of times to save Barca from being roasted. He responded well to the pressure that was placed on him, a development Barca hasn’t seen from their top goalkeeper in a very long time.
But despite Ter Stegen turning back the clock, Barca still was in need of another goal. A goal that would change the tide of the match and bring some calmness back to Barca’s side.
Gavi misses a big chance
They almost got their big goal too. 73 minutes in, De Jong and Torres combined to create a very precious scoring chance for Barca. Torres then laid a good ball off to Gavi, but the young teenager scuffed the shot and wasted the opportunity he was presented with.
Barca needed that goal as well. With Sociedad’s pressure showing no signs of weakening, easing the burden with a goal would’ve been game changing.
But alas, Gavi couldn’t convert, and Barca went back to defending for their lives.
They did just that as well, with a 90+4 minute penalty scare standing as the only possible obstacle for Barca.
Barca defended well until the final whistle, securing a 1-0 win and a crucial three points. The Catalan giants didn’t win convincingly, but at this point in time, any win is welcome.
What an anxiety inducing match.
Barca was on the ropes throughout the entirety of the second half. They couldn’t create anything convincing in the attack, as they spent most of their time defending with their very lives.
But wins — especially with Barca’s current situation —will be taken with no hesitation. These three points kept Barca in second place on the La Liga table, and they have another shot to grab three more soon.
The Champions League race is heating up, and we should appreciate the thrill of it all.
Barca’s next match
Barca’s next match is on Sunday at the Camp Nou against Rayo Vallecano.
See you all then!
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I’ve been a big time Barca fan since I was 14 years old. I love the club, the history, and the tradition that the club has built over its prestigious history. Forca Barca!