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After a disappointing set of results towards the end of April and a dismal 4-2 loss at the hands of Girona last match-day, Barcelona return to Montjuïc for their penultimate home game of the season against Europa Conference League bound Real Sociedad. With 4 games remaining in the campaign, Barcelona have a chance to usurp Girona to second place and seal their spot in next season’s Super Copa de España.

After an unbeaten stretch of results spanning 13 matches, FC Barcelona have lost 3 of their last 4 games across all competitions. A league and European double seemed to be on the cards barely a month ago, but now that seems like a distant memory. Dressing room disagreements coupled with injuries and a string of disappointing results have stung Xavi’s side, who now have nothing but a place in the Spanish Super Cup to play for. The manager would be desperately hoping to end the season on a high and recoup his players in the summer to challenge on all fronts next season.

Xavi’s side was the better team in the opening 60 minutes in the Catalan derby last weekend at the Montilivi. A poor back pass from Sergi Roberto opened the floodgates, with Girona scoring thrice in the next ten minutes to secure their second 4-2 win over Barcelona in the current campaign. Girona had a 1 point advantage heading into this set of fixtures and could have become the first Catalan side to finish over Barcelona since the 1942. However, Alaves’ last minute equalizer against Girona on Saturday has given Xavi’s side a boost in their bid to finish 2nd. They would climb above Girona with a win against the Basque side.

Sociedad have lost only once in their last 7 games and have played solid football away from home. They won their last game, comfortably by a 2-0 score-line against Las Palmas. Manager Alguacil got a chance to rest some of his key players in that game. The Basque side have an exceptional attack in the form of Andre Silva, Kubo, Merino and Oyarzabal and the has looked unstoppable when these sets of players have been on song. Sociedad have the second best defense this season, behind only Real Madrid and know how to make life tough for the Catalans.

The reverse fixture at the Reale Arena saw Sociedad dominate proceedings and could have easily ended with a 3-0 score-line in favor of the Basque side. Their ability to find the final pass hurt them as Ronald Araújo scored a 92nd minute header to snatch all 3 points after an extensive VAR review. Xavi’s men would be weary of the fact that a similar performance would not go unpunished from the high flying Basque side who are themselves looking to secure a direct spot in next season’s Conference League.

FC BARCELONA

Xavi doesn’t have any injury concerns ahead of this fixture but does have a selection headache as far as his preferred 11 is concerned. Sergi Roberto was guilty of conceding the equalizer against Girona and could get relegated to the bench. Fermín López has shown his potential every time he has been called on by the manager and could return to the starting eleven.

Robert Lewandowski was substituted when Barcelona went behind in the tie against Girona. His confidence despite scoring a hat-trick vs Valencia and a penalty against Girona has taken a dip in recent weeks and might prompt Xavi to start Ferran in his place. Elsewhere, Raphinha too has seemed to lackluster on the left flank in recent matches and might make way for João Félix.

Predicted XI (4-3-3);

Marc-André ter Stegen, Joules Koundé, Ronald Araújo, Pau Cubarsí, João Cancelo, Andres Christensen, İlkay Gündoğan, Fermín López, Lamine Yamal, Robert Lewandowski, João Félix

REAL SOCIEDAD

Manager Alguacil much like Xavi has a fully fit squad to choose from. Berrenetxea and Kubo made substitute appearances in their previous matchday but should be one of the first names on the team sheets against Barcelona. Galán, Odriozola, Pacheco and Normand have formed a solid defense in-front of Álex Remiro and could be in line to start against the Blaugranes ahead of Elustondo and Aramburu.

Predicted XI (4-1-4-1);

Álex Remiro; Álvaro Odriozola, Robin Le Normand, Jon Pacheco, Javi Galán; Beñat Turrientes; Ander Barrenetxea, Mikel Merino, Mikel Oyarzabal, Takefusa Kubo; André Silva

Barcelona have had plenty defensive problems in return weeks and look vulnerable at the back at times. Sociedad have an exceptional attacking talent capable of exploiting their defensive frailties. With a second successive Monday night home game to deal with, Barcelona would have to play to the skin of their teeth to grab all 3 points and strengthen their grasp to finish second.





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