Off the back of their third consecutive victory, Barcelona get their quest for the first bit of silverware this season underway. A tricky game against Real Sociedad awaits in the Super Cup. Barça Universal brings forth the match preview of this thrilling semifinal.
Date and Kickoff Time: Wednesday, 13th January 2021, 9 PM CET
Stadium: Estadio El Arcangel
Competition: Spanish Supercup, Semfinal
Referee: Jose Munuera
Less than a month after their previous meeting, Barcelona will lock horns with Real Sociedad once more. The last encounter ended in a narrow 2-1 victory for the Blaugrana. This time in the Supercopa de España, the two sides will go all out in a bid to get their hands on some silverware early on in the campaign.
Barcelona have been in fine form since the turn of the new year with three wins out of three in La Liga. Their drubbing of Granada over the weekend will serve as a huge morale boost heading into the semifinal tie. A run of form they will look to maintain against a highly tricky opponent.
Sociedad, on the other hand, have gotten off to a slightly slower start in 2021. With a draw against Osasuna and a loss to Sevilla, they have fallen to 5th in the league standings. However, the importance of form in cup ties is often lost. They remain without the creative influence of David Silva but are boosted by the return of the dangerous Mikel Oyarzabal. La Real will throw everything at Barça in an attempt to win their first Supercup trophy since 1983.
This will be a hotly contested game, and progressing to the final will provide a huge boost of confidence for either side. The momentum could well swing Barcelona´s largely faltering season the other way, or provide Real Sociedad with the sharpness they displayed early on in the campaign.
What to expect from Barcelona?
Ronald Koeman could very well line up with the same 4-3-3 setup that provided some wonderful fluid football against Granada. Pressing in midfield will be an absolute necessity. Primarily, however, the width provided by the in-form Ousmane Dembele could be key. He could unlock space for Antoine Griezmann whose runs will be largely important since the Sociedad fullbacks push high up.
Lionel Messi could return to his false nine role with Frenkie de Jong playing his slightly revamped advanced role, which seems to be working wonders for the team. Messi and Griezmann seem to be playing with a renewed sense of confidence and smiles on their faces, which is always good news for Cules everywhere.
The pair will look to continue their scoring exploits having bagged a brace each over the weekend, reinforced by Pedri behind them, who has received plaudits from his teammates as well.
As for the defence, the only change could come in the form of Samuel Umtiti, who, despite his mammoth display against Granada, might be replaced by Clement Lenglet.
What to expect from Real Sociedad?
Imanol Aguilaci’s men may well shape up in a similar 4-3-3 setup. A shape that might alter slightly to 4-1-4-1, with the wingers dropping slightly deeper to create overloads and progress through the middle.
Tomorrow could see Willian Jose return to the starting lineup, as Sociedad will also look to capitalise on Barça’s vulnerabilities on set pieces. The Brazilian striker will be fresh after he was rested against Sevilla. Midfield general Mikel Merino will be a key part of organising the shape and circulating the ball.
Player to watch
The La Real academy graduate is an absolutely vital player for Aguilaci. Sociedad always look far more dangerous when he is operating on the flank. After an injury ruled him out for a large chunk of games, his return in late December has been a huge boost. Despite the layoff in December, he remains their top scorer and assists provider this season.
He had an impressive outing vs Sevilla on the weekend despite the loss, notching an assist. Oyarzabal’s immense ability on the ball through the centre and out wide will mean Sergino Dest will have his hands full. And with Merino’s interchanging support, the pair can pose Barça serious problems.
Previous games: WWWDW
Granada 0-4 Barcelona | La Liga
Athletic Club 2-3 Barcelona | La Liga
Huesca 0–1 Barcelona | La Liga
Barcelona 1-1 Eibar | La Liga
Real Valladolid 0-3 Barcelona | La Liga
Previous games: LDWLL
Sevilla 3-2 Real Sociedad | La Liga
Real Sociedad 1-1 Osasuna | La Liga
Athletic Club 0-1 Real Sociedad | La Liga
Real Sociedad 0-2 Atletico Madrid | La Liga
Levante 2-1 Real Sociedad | La Liga
Barcelona 2-1 Real Sociedad | La Liga 20/21
Barcelona 1–0 Real Sociedad| La Liga 19/20
Real Sociedad 2–2 Barcelona | La Liga 18/19
Barcelona 2-1 Real Sociedad | La Liga 18/19
Real Sociedad 1-2 Barcelona | La Liga 17/18
- Real Sociedad are winless against Barcelona in their last 11 encounters
- Imanol Alguacil has no wins against Barcelona as a manager.
- Barcelona have not managed to keep a clean sheet vs Sociedad in their last 5 meetings.
Injured: Gerard Pique (knee), Ansu Fati (knee), Sergi Roberto (hamstring), Phillipe Coutinho (knee) Suspended: N/A
Dest · Mingueza · Lenglet · Alba
de Jong · Busquets · Pedri
Dembele · Messi · Griezmann
Coach: Ronald Koeman
Injured: Miguel Ángel Moyá, Jon Pacheco, Aritz Elustondo, Luca Sangalli, David Silva, Álex Sola
Gorosabel · Le Normand · Zubeldia · Monreal
Guevera · Zubimendi · Merino
Januzaj · Jose · Oyarzabal
Coach: Imanol Alguacil
Despite a few key absences for Sociedad, they will be very threatening in possession. Barcelona however, seem to be finding their rhythm and will stand a strong chance of progressing to the final if the frontline keeps firing.
Barça Universal Prediction: 2-1 win for Barcelona.
Predicted Barcelona lineup against UE Cornella
The restructuring of the Copa del Rey has been a mighty blow to all three Spanish Giants’ faces, namely Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Atletico Madrid. With all rounds reduced to single-legged ties with the lower division side getting home privileges, the Cup has become an inconvenience.
Last season, none of Barcelona or the giant Madrid outfits find a place in the semi-final. If that wasn’t enough of a jaw-dropper, this season’s story is a doozy. Atletico Madrid fell to UE Cornella as early as the first round of the tournament. Real Madrid bowed out with heads drooping last night after Alcoyano saw them off in the second round.
All eyes now rest on Barcelona. Could history be made with all three frontrunners going out in the first two rounds of the Spanish cup? Or will Ronald Koeman’s side find a blistering response to their humbling in the Supercup and see off the same side that sent Diego Simeone’s side packing? Here is how Barcelona can lineup against Cornella.
One expects heavy rotations on the night, starting right from the figure in between the posts. Marc-Andre ter Stegen could be given a deserved rest as Neto could feature in the Cup game.
In central defence, one could expect Samuel Umtiti and Clement Lenglet start the game with young Araujo given a break. While this is understandably crucial for Umtiti’s confidence, much can be said of Lenglet’s recent lack of rhythm. Such a game will provide him with the pedestal to deliver a confidence-boosting effort.
Ronald Koeman confirmed to the press that Sergino Dest will miss the coming clash through muscular troubles. This will put the onus on young Oscar Mingueza to cover at right-back and stay solid to stop a potential counter.
With Jordi Alba having a forgettable game in the Super Cup final and keeping in mind the tight schedule, Junior Firpo could indeed start on Thursday night. It will be a crucial game for the youngster, and probably one of his last chances to impress any potential suitors in the transfer market.
After seeing a lot of action from the benches in recent games, Miralem Pjanic will likely start the game at defensive midfield. It is a role that the Bosnian is adept at. Pjanic will relish the chance to prove his worth in a homely position as the orchestrator.
With the recent increase in minutes for Riqui Puig, it would not be wrong to expect him to start for the rotated team on Thursday. The youngster does indeed possess an X factor about him and has the ability to decide games with his accurate yet silky passes.
The midfield could be rounded off by Ilaix Moriba who has been on the bench for the last couple of games. The Barcelona B youngster is touted for great things to come, and this could be the start of hopefully, what is a long and successful career at the Blaugrana club.
The biggest news in the forward department is the suspension of Lionel Messi which will see him suspended for the coming game. This room put more pressure on the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele, both of whom now have a golden chance to prove their worth.
With this being one of Barcelona’s most realistic title hopes for the season, Koeman cannot take it lightly. Konrad de la Fuente could start on the left-wing, getting the chance he has been longing for so long. It will be the perfect night for him to go after the Cornella defenders and grab a goal or two.
Martin Braithwaite will likely start as the centre-forward on the night. While he has seen less of action off late, circumstances now demand for the Dane to start. It will be absolutely crucial for him to get his runs and off the ball movement perfectly timed if Barcelona breaks Cornella’s defence.
The lineup will be completed by Fransisco Trincao on the right-wing. Nevertheless, with Lionel Messi absent, this is the chance for the Portuguese to impress. He will have complete authority over the position he calls home as he looks to take on more responsibility.
Konrad · Braithwaite · Trincao
Puig · Pjanic · Ilaix
Firpo · Umtiti · Lenglet · Mingueza
Alex Collado is an option on the right-wing and possesses the ability to turn the game around. It would not be a surprise to see him come on for Konrad or Trincao during the game
Konrad, on the other hand, is a perfect deputy for Ousmane Dembele, and consequentially could see the Frenchman return to his favoured spot in the lineup if push comes to shove.
While the rotated squad will likely start the game, circumstances might force Koeman to bring in bigger names if the side need a goal. Therefore Frenkie de Jong, Pedri and Jordi Alba too might see minutes towards the end of the game