Barca’s next game is a tough test away at Reale Arena in the heart of the Basque countryside.
After a disappointing draw against Rayo Vallecano(again) Barca will travel to San Sebastian to play a game that has always proven to be tough. The timing is certainly unfortunate as I would prefer playing Sociedad much later as then atleast the team would have had a few games to gel and the new signings would begin to click. Nevertheless, Xavi and his men have a tough challenge to overcome.
Real Sociedad de Futbol is a Spanish professional football club founded in 1909. It plays it’s home matches at the Reale Arena ( AKA the Anoeta), with a capacity of 39,500. The ground has been a ‘bogey’ or a ‘jinx’ for Barca. The team always seem to struggle when playing there.
Real Sociedad have won 2 La Ligas, 3 Spanish Cups and 1 Spanish Super Cup.
They finished in 6th place last season and will look to build on that and continue fighting for European spots. They also reached the Copa Del Rey quaterfinals. Over the summer they’ve made some exciting new signings, bringing in Moh Ali-Cho(FW), Takefusa Kubo (RW) and Brais Mendez(AM). These players will add pace and dynamism and also help in making up for their star player Mikel Oyarzabal who is out with an ACL tear.
Sociedad began the new La Liga campaign with a 1-0 win against Cadiz with Kubo scoring the winning goal.
Imanol Alguacil is the current coach of Real Sociedad . A man who is as Basque as one can be, he has reshaped La Real by using a blend of young, hungry players and experienced veterans to make the team competitive again.
Imanol plays a brand of football closer to Pep’s tiki-taka version rather than the direct, long-ball approach opted by his predecessors. It’s a possession based , attacking and exciting brand of football. Fans and local media absolutly love him.
Real Sociedad under Imanol Alguacil have used a 4-2-3-1 shape, spear-headed by the young Swedish striker Alexander Isak. His side want to retain possession and have a respectable average of 54.4 %. He likes his fullbacks to push up and maintain width while the wingers tuck in and play as inside forwards. Mikel Merino generally drops deep to provide passing options to the CB’s. Sociedad will press intensely, even more so as they will be cheered on by a loud home crowd.
As I’ve already mentioned earlier Barca struggle to bring out the ball when faced with a high-intensity press. This was seen against Rayo as well, their CF’s were used to occupy Busquets which lead to several periods of play in which Barca were aimlessly recycling the ball in their own half. It’s a genuine concern how easy it is for teams to prevent Barca from building up from the back.
Keep in mind that Busi is suspended for this game, which means we will need our entire midfield to step up. It’s been rumoured that Pjanic will start in place of Busquets. Personally, I have deep concerns about starting a player that has barely played and who’s form has been abysmal over the season. In my mind this seems like the perfect opportunity to try a double-pivot of Frenkie-Kessie and Pedri as a 10/advanced playmaker. This would allow us to match Sociedad’s shape while not taking the risk of starting a player who has almost the same faults as Busi. I’m a genuine admirer of Pjanic’s ball-playing abilities but the lack of speed and defensive ability will surely be exploited by Sociedad’s pacey attack.
This will surely be a fantastic game and I am looking forward to seeing the team play without Busi. This will be a glimpse into a very-near future, a post-Busi era.
Visca el Barca!