Apr 9, 2016 at 7.30pm UK at ​Estadio Anoeta
Real Sociedad
FT(HT: 1-0)

Turan (43'), Mascherano (68'), Pique (92')

Preview: Real Sociedad vs. Barcelona

Sports Mole previews Saturday's La Liga clash between Real Sociedad and leaders Barcelona at the Anoeta.

Barcelona will look to get their march towards the La Liga title back on track when they take on Real Sociedad at the Anoeta on Saturday.

The Catalan giants go into the game having been beaten in El Clasico last weekend, but remain six points clear at the top of the table.

Real Sociedad

Luis Suarez of FC Barcelona scores his team's second goal during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Real Sociedad de Futbol at Camp Nou on November 28, 2015© Getty Images

With just seven matches of the season remaining, there is little but pride left to fight for over the closing stages of the campaign for Sociedad.

Sitting mid-table and equidistant between the European spots and the relegation zone, it doesn't appear as though the Basque outfit will become embroiled in any meaningful battle at either end of the standings.

Ten points is the gap to both the top six and the bottom three, and while there may be the slightest glimmer of hope while a European challenge is still mathematically possible, their main battle for the rest of the season is likely to be for a top-half finish.

That would better last season's showing when they finished 12th in the standings, although they are still eight points adrift of their points tally for the 2014-15 campaign.

That gives Eusebio Sacristan's men another aim in the home straight, and they will be hopeful of reaching it having picked up their first win in five games with an impressive 2-1 triumph at Sevilla on Sunday.

An early goal from Markel Bergara was followed up by an own goal from Grzegorz Krychowiak, and they held out in the second half after Kevin Gameiro had pulled one back from the penalty spot to end a run of just two points from the previous 12 available.

They have still not won at home since February 14, though, and their record at the Anoeta this season has been very mixed, with five wins, five draws and five defeats from their 15 games.

Only five teams have amassed fewer points in front of their own fans in the league this term, but a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Las Palmas in their most recent home outing is their only loss in their last seven games at the Anoeta.

They are yet to pick up a home point against any of the top five this season, though, and with Barcelona and Real Madrid to come in two of their next three home games, many will be expecting their form to take a turn for the worse once again.

Recent form: DLDLLW


Luis Suarez celebrates scoring again during the Champions League quarter-final between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid on April 5, 2016© AFP

Last week was always going to be a big one for Barcelona, with El Clasico being followed by a Champions League clash with the other Madrid powerhouse Atletico, but it didn't quite go to plan for Luis Enrique's side.

It looked to be a daunting trip to Camp Nou for Real Madrid, with Barcelona heading into last Saturday's contest on a Spanish-record 39-match unbeaten streak in all competitions and bidding to move 13 points clear of their bitter rivals.

It seemed to be heading that way when Gerard Pique gave his side the lead after 56 minutes, but Karim Benzema quickly levelled things up and, despite Sergio Ramos being shown a predictable red card with seven minutes remaining, Los Blancos still went on to get the win through Cristiano Ronaldo.

It was a defeat that would no doubt have hurt Barcelona's pride as well as ending their magnificent run of form, but the effect on the title race is likely to be minimal.

Barca remain six points clear of Atletico Madrid and seven ahead of Real, and with 10th-placed Sociedad the highest-placed team they have left to face all season, it is hard to see the Catalans giving up that lead.

One leg of their prospective second consecutive treble looks likely then, and with Sevilla to face in the final of the Copa del Rey, the biggest question mark lies over whether they can become the first side since 1990 to retain the Champions League.

There is work to be done in the second leg of their quarter-final with Atletico, but they did at least return to winning ways at the first time of asking on Tuesday as a brace from Luis Suarez saw them come from behind to beat their 10-man opponents 2-1 and leave the tie delicately poised at the halfway stage.

That took the tally for Suarez, Neymar and Lionel Messi to 109 in all competitions this season, while the latter of those will once again be looking for his 500th senior goal this weekend.

Barca have not lost an away match since the start of October - a run of 19 games that includes 13 victories - and unsurprisingly they boast the best points-per-game ratio on the road in La Liga this season.

Recent form: WWWWDL
Recent form (all competitions): WWWDLW

Team News

Lionel Messi celebrates scoring with Neymar during the La Liga game between Barcelona and Getafe on March 12, 2016© AFP

With the league title firmly in their hands and Wednesday's Champions League second leg against Atletico looming, Enrique may opt to make a few changes to his side this weekend.

It is unlikely that any of the deadly front three will be changed, but the likes of Rafinha, Sergi Roberto and Arda Turan will be hopeful of a recall.

Claudio Bravo will resume his place in goal having once again sat out for the Champions League, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen dropping back to the bench.

Aleix Vidal is in contention having missed the midweek game through injury, but Sandro Ramirez, Jeremy Mathieu and Adriano remain sidelined.

Sociedad, meanwhile, will be without the suspended Bergara after he was sent off against Sevilla last weekend, and he could be replaced in the side by Esteban Granero.

Oier, Joseba Zaldua, Imanol Agirretxe, Raul Navas and Sergio Canales all remain out for the hosts.

Real Sociedad possible starting lineup:
Rulli; C Martinez, Reyes, I Martinez, Yuri; Xabi Prieto, Granero, Illarramendi; Oiarzabal, Vela, Zurutuza

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Bravo; Alves, Pique, Vermaelen, Alba; Turan, Busquets, Rafinha; Messi, Suarez, Neymar

Head To Head

Barcelona have won the last two meetings between these sides without conceding a goal, but the record over the last five is evenly split with two wins apiece and a draw.

David Moyes's Sociedad side picked up a 1-0 victory on Barcelona's most recent visit to the Anoeta in January of last year as they made it back-to-back home wins against the Catalan giants. Indeed, Barca haven't won at the Anoeta since 2007, losing four and drawing two of their last six visits.

The reverse fixture at Camp Nou in November saw Messi, Neymar and Suarez all get on the scoresheet as Barca cruised to a 4-0 victory.

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We say: Real Sociedad 0-2 Barcelona

Sociedad have little left to fight for this season, and while Barca may also have one eye on Wednesday's meeting with Atletico, they should still comfortably have the quality to win this game. Their record at the Anoeta is not great, but we think that they will end their nine-year wait for an away win over Sociedad.

Who will win Saturday's La Liga clash between Real Sociedad and Barcelona?

Real Sociedad
Real Sociedad
Marc-Andre ter Stegen for Barcelona on December 14, 2014
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