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Barcelona struggles to get past Real Sociedad in Anoeta

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In one of the most complicated fields that Barcelona has played against throughout the last decade, the Cules beat Real Sociedad with goals by Suarez and Dembele.

Every single season it’s the same deal, whenever Barcelona gets to win at Anoeta stadium against Real Sociedad, good things tend to happen in the tournament for the Blaugrana. It has been a very complicated fixture for the big three clubs in the Spanish La Liga, only Barcelona was able to get a victory and they barely got it after surviving the hell that can be San Sebastian. In past seasons, there have always been moments in which the Catalan club leaves points behind when they face Real and today could’ve easily been one of those days. But this Barcelona proved today that they are equipped to play in the most complicated fields, and deliver the result even if they didn’t perform well at the end of the day. The big hero of the match was German goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, who made at least five impressive saves that take him all the way to the top as the goalie with the greatest capacity to win matches on his own. Right now, there is no other squad in Europe that can say they have another goalkeeper like him but made two specific interventions that were worth the three points by the end of the match.

But Real Sociedad proved from the very start of the match that they weren’t going to allow Barcelona to take the three points home that easily, an unstoppable Elustondo volley gave his squad the opener before the 15-minute mark and left Barcelona with a lot of work to do for the rest of the game. Fortunately for the Catalan club, Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele are in great form right now and they were the ones who turned the match around but it wasn’t until the last half hour of the game. The first half was extremely difficult to endure for the visiting side, they had all the stadium rooting against them and a frankly well-organized Real Sociedad that could’ve easily scored a couple more goals during the first 45 minutes of the match that may have changed the whole outcome of the result. But Ter Stegen and the defense commanded by Pique and Umtiti were on point, for the most part, and only the goal was a moment of weakness for the Barcelona backline at the start of the game. What Real Sociedad did best during the whole 90 minutes was staying on top of Leo Messi, the Argentine wasn’t able to penetrate the defense at all during the match and he grew increasingly desperate to make a difference.

It really wasn’t that Barcelona played a bad game, they always struggle in this stadium and manager Asier Garitano knows the Catalan club well enough to know what their weaknesses are. The key here was to not let Messi develop his game, they accomplished that with a dual coverage made by Zubeldia and Pardo where they didn’t let Messi keep the ball comfortably for more than two seconds. But Ernesto Valverde got prepared for this scenario, the goals actually came from corner kicks that the squad practiced during the week and they paid off big time. It was a time lapse of just over four minutes, the first one came two minutes after an hour of play, Luis Suarez picked up a loose ball during a corner kick and buried it inside. The next goal came just three minutes later, this time it was Dembele who was near the outskirts of the box and also struck the ball hard to bury it past the keeper after a second corner kick in just four minutes. This was enough for Barcelona to take the three points home and stay at the very top of the table, where they are now alone after Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid’s results from later in the day. Ter Stegen was there to save the final minutes, his interventions are what gave Barça the victory.

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