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Barcelona vs Real Sociedad, La Liga: Final Score 2-0, Efficient Barça get crucial win at home


Barcelona are back in second place in the La Liga table with three games to go thanks to a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Real Sociedad at the Montjuïc Olympic Stadium on Monday night. La Real made Barça’s life difficult all night but the Blaugrana played a solid all-around game and took their chances to secure all three points and move back above Girona in their bid to finish the season as league runners-up.

FIRST HALF

The opening 35 minutes were hard-fought and pretty uneventful thanks in large part to Real Sociedad’s setup, as coach Imanol Alguacil used a very narrow 5-1-3-1 shape to deny Barça spaces in the middle and make it almost impossible for the home team to build from the back with their usual patterns.

Xavi Hernández’s side was stuck in possession and often used long balls to try and bypass the Sociedad press, but the Blaugrana couldn’t find their front players in good positions and often wasted their attacks. La Real were content with denying their opponents and offered very little threat going forward, though Sheraldo Becker almost gave the visitors the lead but saw his goal denied by the offside flag.

Towards the end of the half, however, Barça began finding a way through the Sociedad structure thanks to Robert Lewandowski dropping deeper to hold up the play and allow his teammates to go forward, and the home team finally showed some promise offensively.

Raphinha fired the warning shot with a rocket against the post, and a couple of minutes later came the opening goal: Lewandowski came into his own half to receive the ball and played a wonderful pass to release Ilkay Gündogan through the middle, and the German squared it to Lamine Yamal who put the home team in front with a great strike.

La Real tried to go forward and get a quick equalizer, but couldn’t create a real chance and the halftime whistle came to end a tight half that had Barça in front with pretty much the only big opportunity for either side.

SECOND HALF

Neither coach made a halftime substitution and the second half started the same way as the first, with La Real still in their defensive shape trying to avoid conceding a second goal before sending more bodies forward. Barça spent more time in the Sociedad half and found it easier to break their press, but still struggled to find space in the final third to create chances as we reached the hour mark.

Sociedad slowly but surely began going forward as the game reached its final quarter, and Brais Méndez missed the visitors’ best and only chance in the first 70 minutes when he found himself in great position inside the box but fired wide of the target. Shortly after that Alguacil made an attack-minded triple substitution and changed to a 4-3-3 formation, and the visitors were instantly more aggressive in and out of possesion.

Xavi answered with two changes of his own in midfield as Sergi Roberto and Fermín came on to add fresh legs in the center of the park, and the game finally opened up as we reached the final 15 minutes and Sociedad began testing the Barça defense with substitute Takefusa Kubo constantly getting on the ball and looking to wreak havoc on the right wing.

A third change for the home team saw Ferran Torres replace Lewandowski up front and the Spaniard nearly scored with his first touch on a counter-attack, but Álex Remiro made a tremendous save to keep his team in the game.

The game was still undecided with 10 minutes to go and Alguacil made his final roll of the dice, with a double change that put two more attack-minded players on the pitch as the visitors had nothing to lose and sent everyone forward looking for a late goal.

Sociedad’s aggressiveness left a lot of space in behind and allowed Barça to counter, and Yamal missed a couple of really good chances to double the lead and kill off the game. But in added time came a golden opportunity when Álvaro Odriozola blocked Raphinha’s free-kick with his left arm inside the box, and the referee pointed to the spot after a VAR check. Raphinha scored the penalty with ease, and made Barça’s victory a reality.

The final whistle came to end a tough game in the Catalan capital, and Barça get a win they desperately needed with a solid performance. It wasn’t spectacular but La Real didn’t allow it to be an entertaining game with their tactics, but Barça stuck to the task and took their chances to get the win.

They’re back in second and control their destiny again, and the final three games of the season are more than winnable. This was by far the toughest challenge left for Barça, and they’ve passed it.


Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Kounde, Cubarsí, Iñigo, Cancelo; Gündogan (Romeu 90+5’), Christensen (Roberto 70’), Pedri (Fermín 70’); Yamal, Lewandowski (Ferran 77’), Raphinha

Goals: Yamal (40’), Raphinha (pen 90+4’)

Real Sociedad: Remiro; Traoré (Odriozola 79’), Elustondo, Le Normand, Pacheco (Tierney 70’), Aramburu (Barrenetxea 70’); Turrientes; Méndez (Zakharyan 79’), Merino, Oyarzabal; Becker (Kubo 70’)

Goals: None



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