Barcelona vs Real Sociedad match preview and predictions for Sunday’s LaLiga fixture. Read on for the head-to-head, team news, predicted lineups and fantasy football picks as life after Messi begins in Barcelona.
|Sunday 15th August 2021
|20:00 (local time)
Barcelona vs Real Sociedad Preview
Perhaps the standout fixture on the opening weekend in LaLiga sees Barcelona and Real Sociedad clash at Camp Nou. This will of course be Barca’s first competitive game since the departure of Leo Messi and the reaction of the fans inside Camp Nou will be very interesting indeed and may even overshadow sections of what should be an excellent game of football.
In theory, there is still plenty for Barcelona fans to be positive about. So much has changed since they were last allowed into Camp Nou with a talented young midfield developing while summer arrivals Memphis Depay and Sergio Aguero bring plenty of attacking quality which at least in part will help them move on from the magic of Messi.
There is still more than enough quality in this squad to challenge for the Spanish title but there is also so much anger. That was largely directed at previous president Josep Maria Bartomeu but there is a real danger it may spill over into resentment towards some existing players, with some Barcelona fans angry that the high salaries of perceived under-performers and their reluctance to leave, has created a situation where it was impossible for the club to resign Messi. It may even leave them struggling to register the new players they have signed in time for this game.
Of the players likely to start on Sunday, Antoine Griezmann is certainly one who may get some kind of criticism. However he is also the player that on the pitch may benefit most from Messi’s absence. The Frenchman will now be able to operate as more of a number 10 and take up spaces on the pitch usually occupied by Messi.
Real Sociedad know all too well the qualities he possesses. They should in theory provide a stern opening test for Barcelona although it is worth noting that the Catalans ran out 6-1 winners when the sides last met in Donostia in March. There is still a naivety to this talented young Real Sociedad side at times and Imanol will want to see signs that it is developing into a smarter, more streetwise unit this season.
That hopefully won’t come at the expense of some of their attractive football. They create loads of chances but also need to be a bit more clinical in the final third. Not much has changed in terms of their squad with Diego Rico and Mathew Ryan their only arrivals. However both players are unavailable here so it will be a familiar looking La Real on the opening weekend in Barcelona, albeit with some notable absentees.
Head to Head
- Last 6 Competitive Meetings: 4 Barcelona Wins, 2 Draws.
- Barcelona won the most recent meeting 6-1 in Donostia in March.
- La Real have lost on all of their last 21 visits to Camp Nou.
- The last 12 meetings overall have produced 10 Barcelona wins and 2 draws with one of those draws the Supercopa tie last season which Barça still won on penalties.
Barcelona have both injury and registration issues here. Marc-André ter Stegen, Ousmane Dembélé, Ansu Fati and Sergio Aguero are all absent through injuries but new boys Emerson and Memphis Depay are fit and may both play some part if Barcelona are able to register them in time. Pedri may also get a rest after his busy summer.
Real Sociedad have some significant selection problems too. Summer signings Mat Ryan and Diego Rico are out injured, along with Nacho Monreal and Carlos Fernandez. Mikel Merino and Mikel Oyarzabal both started the Olympics Final last weekend and may not feature heavily, if at all here.
Predicted Barcelona Starting Lineup:
Neto – Alba, Lenglet, Pique, Dest – De Jong, Busquets, Roberto – Depay, Braithwaite, Griezmann (4-3-3)
Predicted Real Sociedad Starting Lineup:
Remiro – Aihen, Le Normand, Elustondo, Gorosabel – Guridi, Illarramendi, Silva – Januzaj, Isak, Portu (4-3-3)
Barcelona vs Real Sociedad Predictions
Score Prediction: Barcelona 2-1 Real Sociedad
A full strength Real Sociedad would have been able to give Barcelona a real run for their money but their selection issues are pretty significant and tilt the balance more firmly in the favour of the home team. If they can get Depay registered in time, the Catalans will be in good shape to cause La Real a lot of problems and as has been pointed out in some circles, the absence of Messi may result in more players taking on responsibility. Ronald Koeman’s side should start the post-Messi era with a win.
Fantasy Football Picks
Griezmann is the guy most capable of filling Messi’s boots as this team’s chief creator and perhaps even scorer of goals. He certainly has a point to prove and this stands a very good chance of being Griezmann’s best season at Camp Nou to date by some distance.