• Analysis

Ernesto Valverde cannot steady Barcelona’s ship

Ernesto Valverde Barcelona Real Sociedad
Getty Images

Devoid of Lionel Messi’s magic, Ernesto Valverde’s side could only manage a draw at the Anoeta thanks to goals from Suarez and Griezmann.

Traveling week-in week-out catches up to you. And it surely did with Barcelona. It is not everyday that the Catalans are the poor team in a competitive fixture. But they were against Imanol Alguacil’s Real Sociedad and were deservedly held to a draw.

The last Champions League group fixture, inconsequential for the Camp Nou based entity saw youth and fringe players take on the pitch. Lionel Messi was rested, while Luis Suarez only got on the pitch for half an hour.

With La Liga honors on the line and Real Madrid matching them point for point, the trip to Real Sociedad was given preference. But it did not transfer on to the pitch and was not evident in Barcelona’s performance.

Ernesto Valverde’s side looked tired through out the fixture. Les Cules were dominated by their less frivolous hosts, who also boasted off better possession stats.

Moreover, the Catalans were devoid of creativity and did not have answers to La Real’s constant probing.

Barcelona look uninspired

The laboring display from Barcelona comes as a shock, particularly after they rested players in midweek. Mikel Oiarzabal scored from the spot with in the first quarter of hour. He should have added another but was kept at bay by the ever reliable Ter Stegen.

Antoine Griezmann got over his mid-week blushes and brought Barcelona back into the game against the run of play. The Frenchman slowly but surely adapting to life in Camp Nou.

After the break, the Catalans looked sprightly and caught Real Sociedad off-guard. They took the lead within the first five minutes after the break, Luis Suarez getting on the scoreboard for his ninth goal in La Liga this season.

But La Real did not hold back and equalized shortly after the hour mark. Alexander Isak pounced on a lose ball to make Barcelona pay.

Real Sociedad could have added a third but failed to make the most of their chances. The draw was a harsh result for them as they had the better claim for the three points on offer.

La Real will be happy with a point taken off from the league leaders but should remain wary of their position on the points table. Atletico Madrid returned to winning ways in La Liga and will be challenging for their Champions League spot before going into the winter break.

Barcelona’s blushes against Real Sociedad were spared, as Real Madrid matched their dropped points against Valencia. At Mestalla, Zinedine Zidane’s men could not get over the hosts in a cagey affair. Ernesto Valverde has breathing space for now, but for how long.