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Preview: Barcelona vs. Real Sociedad - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Barcelona vs. Real Sociedad - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole provides the team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Barcelona's home La Liga clash with Real Sociedad this weekend.
By , European Football Editor | 1mo

Barcelona will be looking to continue their charge towards the La Liga title when they welcome Real Sociedad to Camp Nou on Saturday night.

As it stands, Barca are nine points clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid at the top of the table, while Sociedad occupy 10th, just five points off the top seven with six rounds of matches left.


Barcelona

Lionel Messi scored twice and Philippe Coutinho netted the other as Barca recorded a 3-0 win over Manchester United in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday night. The victory handed the Spanish giants a four-goal aggregate success, setting up a semi-final with Liverpool.

In truth, Ernesto Valverde's side were far too strong for United over the 180 minutes of football and now face a home game against Liverpool on May 1 before welcoming Jurgen Klopp's side to Camp Nou on May 7. The treble is very much on when considering that Barca will also face Valencia in the final of the Copa del Rey on May 24.

Had Barca been locked in a title race at this stage of the season then squad rotation would have been tougher to manage for Valverde, but the Spanish champions are so comfortable at the top of the division.

Indeed, they currently sit nine points clear of second-placed Atletico at the summit. Only an incredible collapse will prevent the Catalan giants from retaining the title, although they have actually drawn two of their last three in the league against Villarreal and Huesca.

That said, the goalless draw at Huesca last weekend came after Valverde had made 10 changes in between the two legs of their Champions League quarter-final with United.

Barca will host Sociedad, travel to Alaves and welcome Levante in their three league games before the first leg against Liverpool, and it would not be a surprise to see wholesale changes made on each occasion.

Valverde's side have won 12 of their 16 home La Liga matches this term, suffering just one defeat. They have also netted 46 times on home soil during the 2018-19 campaign and deserve their spot at the top of the table.

It would be fair to say that Barca have not always been at their free-flowing best this season, but Messi has been in outstanding form, managing 45 goals in 42 appearances in all competitions. If the Spanish giants are to land the treble this season then they will need the Argentine to keep up with his current level of form.

Recent form: WWWDWD
Recent form (all competitions): WDWWDW


Real Sociedad

Ten wins, 11 draws and 11 defeats - that is how Sociedad have performed in the league this season. A total of 41 points has left them in 10th position in the table, just five points off the top seven entering Week 33.

Sociedad have not actually finished lower than 12th in Spain's top flight since the 2010-11 campaign. The Basque outfit posted fourth in 2012-13 before managing sixth in 2016-17, but they are currently eight points off the top six and unlikely to end the campaign in a Europa League position.

It has been an inconsistent campaign for Sociedad, but they have only lost one of their last five in the league, which came away to Celta Vigo on April 7. Last weekend, Imanol Alguacil side were held at home by Eibar, with their last victory coming against Real Betis on April 4.

It is a big ask to expect Sociedad to return to winning ways this weekend when considering that they have lost each of their last four La Liga matches with Barca, who will be full of confidence following their impressive victory over United at Camp Nou on Wednesday night.

In terms of what is ahead for Alguacil's team, they will host Villarreal and Getafe in their final two La Liga matches of the month, before starting May with a trip to Alaves. The Basque side will then welcome Real Madrid before travelling to Espanyol on the final weekend of the campaign.

Sociedad have actually not been too bad on their travels this season, losing just six of their 16 matches. That said, just five victories have arrived away from home and as mentioned, Barca have picked up 12 victories from their 16 league games in front of their own supporters this term.

The fact that Barca have bigger fish to fry could work in the away team's favour this weekend, but they have found it very difficult to upset the Catalan side at Camp Nou. That said, Valverde's side only just overcame Sociedad in the corresponding match last term, with Andres Iniesta featuring in his farewell game for Barca.

Recent form: LDDWLD


Team News

Valverde almost has a fully-fit squad at the moment, with Rafinha and Thomas Vermaelen the only absentees.

Changes are expected to be made following the clash with United, however, meaning that the likes of Nelson Semedo, Arturo Vidal and Ousmane Dembele should come into the XI.

There could also be a spot for Samuel Umtiti at centre-back, with Carles Alena also pushing for a midfield role. Messi and Luis Suarez are both expected to keep their spots in the final third, though.

As for Sociedad, Willian Jose will again miss out through suspension, meaning that Juanmi is expected to lead the line with support from Mikel Oyarzabal.

Sandro Ramirez and Ruben Pardo are both attacking options for the visitors, but Mikel Merino and Igor Zubeldia should both keep their positions in the middle of the park.

On-loan Real Madrid defender Theo Hernandez will also be pushing for a spot in the starting XI.

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Semedo, Umtiti, Pique, Alba; Alena, Vidal, Arthur; Dembele, L Suarez, Messi

Real Sociedad possible starting lineup:
Rulli; Zaldua, Aritz, Llorente, Munoz; Merino, Zubeldia; Oyarzabal, Sangalli, Ramirez; Juanmi


Head To Head



Barca recorded a 2-1 victory when they travelled to Sociedad for the reverse match earlier this season.

As mentioned, Coutinho scored the only goal of the match as Barca ran out 1-0 winners at Camp Nou last term, while the Catalan outfit have been victorious in the last four La Liga meetings between the two sides.

Barca have won 1-0, 3-2, 4-0 and 2-0 in their last four La Liga meetings at Camp Nou.


We say: Barcelona 2-0 Real Sociedad



Sociedad will be the fresher of the two teams, but it is difficult to back against Barca this weekend. Valverde could make some changes, although the home side should still have enough to collect all three points.






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Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
CManchester CityMan City38322495237298
2Liverpool38307189226797
3Chelsea38219863392472
4Tottenham HotspurSpurs382321367392871
5Arsenal382171073512270
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd381991065541166
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves38169134746157
8Everton38159145446854
9Leicester CityLeicester38157165148352
10West Ham UnitedWest Ham38157165255-352
11Watford38148165259-750
12Crystal Palace38147175153-249
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle38129174248-645
14Bournemouth38136195670-1445
15Burnley38117204568-2340
16Southampton38912174565-2039
17Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton3899203560-2536
RCardiff CityCardiff38104243469-3534
RFulham3875263481-4726
RHuddersfield TownHuddersfield3837282276-5416
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