Real Sociedad vs Barcelona was a tricky game for the Catalans. Blaugrana did not have the most successful campaigns away from home, and the season was taking an unpleasant shape towards the end of the calendar 2020. With a win in Sociedad, Barcelona would have cut the distance from Atletico Madrid to four points, and the La Liga title battle will be live once again.
Barcelona entered the game in good form with all their attention focused on La Liga. And even with that taken into consideration, nobody saw the absolute trouncing, that took place at the Anoeta.
Real Sociedad vs Barcelona – the line-up and history at the Anoeta
The team selection was pretty straightforward. Mingueza, Lenglet would be the defenders with De Jong dropping deeper to provide that defensive support. Pedri and Busquets had to control the midfield while the trio in attack would be responsible for the goals.
Usually, a hard place to visit, in Barcelona’s golden years the team couldn’t manage to win even once. From May 2007, the date of their last away wins, until 2018, Barcelona had a record of 2 draws and five defeats in 7 games in La Liga. “The Anoeta curse” was rumbling around Sociedad every time Barcelona travelled for an away game with the Basque giants.
The pulsating Barcelona performance everyone wanted
Barcelona played arguably their best game of the season. Demolishing the Basque side with a 1:6 scoreline and sending a very strong message to Atletico and Real was the perfect result before an international break.
Dest and Alba were the outlets in wide areas and their energy provided a lot of good opportunities for Barcelona and also extreme variety in attack without losing dominance in the middle of the field.
Alba once again bombing forward, and this time Sociedad defenders didn’t act naturally. They were split between covering the players arriving late and also have to pay attention to Alba. They did neither. Alba almost walked into the goal before releasing a pass and a simple finish for the second goal of Sergino Dest that evening.
Barcelona not even once throughout this game looked back or decided “it is enough” which can only be seen as a positive.
Busquets joined the party reminding everybody about his ability on the ball. The pass for Messi for the 4th goal of the game was out of this world. Exceptional vision, weight on the ball, and precision. He disguised the pass by asking Messi to come short and then knocks that pass over the top of the defenders. Fantastic pass by the Spaniard.
Dembélé decided he had enough missed chances this season and was determined to end up on the scoresheet himself. Very arrogant and full of motivation run between four players of Real Sociedad marked his awaited goal. A move that would be on the front page of every paper if Neymar or Messi created. Great skill, and more importantly, the perfect goal for the confidence of Ousmane.
And now is the time to revisit the first goal once again. Remember the three more or less good options for Jordi Alba? The result was already 1:5, and there were EIGHT players of Barcelona in the opposition penalty box. EIGHT.
To say the Catalans smelled blood would be an understatement. The only players missing were Lenglet, Araujo, and Ter Stegen. Everybody wanted to score.
Another interesting point is the player positions on the pitch. Two wide players and the rest is concentrated in the middle of the field which serves as a trap. That idea and structure sucks all the players into middle areas of the pitch and then release the ball out wide which creates confusion in the defence and unpredictability in attack.
The meaning behind this run of form from Barcelona
We all have seen the improvement of Barcelona in recent weeks. Tactical switch, new president, coming towards the end of the season, or purely a combination of all, saw Barcelona rise in terms of performances, and the results are also following. Unbeaten in the league in 2021, the only team in the top 5 leagues in Europe, final of the Copa del Rey and four points away from the top spot in La Liga was something that looked impossible in November and December last year. But now after nine away wins in a row the title race looks like this.
The team, however, looks together, the players are enjoying their football, and the nonsensical information coming from the offices is brought to a minimum. The sole focus shifted to performances on the field and how can this team finish the year in the best possible way. Something that should’ve been the primary focus from the start. Hopefully, the months where Barcelona was asleep at the wheel would not be the reason why they can’t celebrate a double. With everything into consideration, a double that would feel like the 2009 sextuple.