In the shadows of the legendary “Anoeta” stadium, Barcelona faced a formidable opponent: Real Sociedad. The year was 2007, and a resounding 2-0 victory marked the last time Barcelona triumphed on that hallowed ground before the curse took hold. With strikes from Iniesta and Eto’o, Barcelona dealt a blow that sent La Real into a three-year exile from La Liga.
When Real Sociedad resurfaced among Spain’s elite, they emerged as a new threat, an ethereal specter that haunted Barcelona for years to come. The fateful day arrived on April 30th, 2011. Barça initially seized the advantage with a goal from Thiago Alcantara, but the tables turned dramatically in the final 20 minutes of the game. Ifran and Prieto etched their names in history, snatching three points for La Real as the ominous “Anoeta curse” took root.
In the following season of 2011/12, Barcelona surged ahead rapidly, securing a 2-0 lead with goals from Xavi and Cesc Fabregas within a mere two minutes. Yet, the heavens shifted once again, as Agirretxe and Griezmann’s swift strikes in the 59th and 61st minute leveled the playing field, culminating in a 2-2 draw.
January 19th, 2013, we witnessed another deceptive mirage of Barcelona’s dominance, as Messi and Pedro propelled them to a seemingly insurmountable 2-0 lead. Yet, the relentless Basque bandits fought back, snatching victory in the 90th minute through Agirretxe’s audacious strike.
For the subsequent three seasons, the hosts dictated the tempo. In 2013/14, Barcelona pushed, but succumbed to two more goals, while in the following two campaigns, the scoreline remained locked at a solitary 1-0 until the final whistle.
The curse is over
November 27th, 2016, marked a crucial turning point in the battle against the curse. After enduring five years of consecutive defeats, Barcelona finally broke the spell, salvaging a hard-fought point. The combined efforts of Willian Jose and Messi produced a 1-1 draw, breathing new life into La Blaugrana’s aspirations.
Merely two months later, on January 19th, 2017, Barcelona faced Real Sociedad once again. This time, it was in the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey. Neymar’s precise penalty broke the deadlock. The air crackled with anticipation, with a long and heavy 68 minutes left to be played. Barça held on, and the Anoeta curse shattered, dispersing into the ether.
However, not everyone was convinced, as the streak was still yet to be broken in the league. So, did the spectral grip still linger in La Liga? An answer was offered by the 2017/18 campaign. The two teams met once again on January 14th, 2018. Real Sociedad raced ahead, unfurling a daunting 2-0 lead, casting a doubt on Barcelona’s fate. Yet, just before halftime, Paulinho’s strike ignited a glimmer of hope. Minutes into the second half, ‘El Pistolero’ seized the stage with a mind-blowing chip over Geronimo Rulli. That goal leveled the score, before propelling Barcelona into the lead 20 minutes from time. Then, Leo Messi put the final nail in the coffin with an exhilirating free kick from 30 odd meters out. The curse was defied, leaving only echoes of its once-pervasive presence.
Things changed drastically
Ever since that fateful encounter, Barcelona ventured into La Real’s den on five separate occasions. They gained a grand total of 13 precious points through 4 victories and a lonely draw. Undeniably, the Catalan giants have asserted their dominance. Their resounding triumphs have witnessed the net bulge with sweet harmony on 15 goals, while the sting of defeat has been felt only six times, as they made themselves feel at home in the place they once dreaded so deeply.