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Three takeaways from Barcelona 2-0 Real Sociedad

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Photo by LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images

Goals from Lamine Yamal and Raphinha pushed Barcelona to a 2-0 win over seventh-placed Real Sociedad on Monday night, thus ensuring vital changes in the league standings.

The Catalans did not have it easy against the Basque side who, in fact, had a fair number of chances of their own on the night.

A poor game for Pau Cubarsi and Inigo Martinez and the changed defensive combination saw La Real play through the hosts’ defence multiple times and find themselves through on goal.

Barcelona, however, held on to a one-goal cushion despite the pressure until Raphinha scored from the spot in the final minute.

Barça Universal brings you three takeaways from Barcelona 2-0 Real Sociedad.

A touch of magic

The opening half hour for Barcelona against Real Sociedad was far from simple. The Basque side put up a good showing in defence, denying the Catalans any shot on goal until the 31st minute.

Even until the team’s first recorded shot on target, however, it was clear that Lamine Yamal was having one of his magical days.

Starting on the right flank, the La Masia star was a constant nuisance for Real Sociedad’s defence with his trickery out wide, constantly getting into promising positions.

The youngster had his first big chance of the game in the 27th minute when he combined in a sublime sequence with Ilkay Gundogan to get through in front of goal. However, he failed to get the shot away owing to Pacheco’s timely intervention.

Just over ten minutes later, Yamal deservedly found his name on the scoresheet with a touch of magic and precise finishing.

It was Robert Lewandowski who created the goal out of nothing, splitting La Real’s defence in half, and Yamal was accurate with his shot the first time as he sent the ball crashing into the back of the net.

The La Masia starlet was the team’s best player by far on the night, completing six dribbles, one key pass, having one shot blocked and winning 13 duels on the night.

Notably, other Barcelona stars including Lewandowski, Gundogan and Raphinha were also at their glittering best and deserve a mention when on the topic of a magical touch.

Roque’s puzzling situation

Now safely nestled in the business end of the season, Barcelona and Xavi are firmly focused on the campaign ahead. It is thus the best time for the manager to experiment with rotations as he plans for the year ahead.

Vitor Roque continues to be overlooked. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

One cannot help but see it as bizarre, thus, that Xavi did not utilise all five substitutions last night. The situation of Vitor Roque, considering the developments over the week, comes into particular focus.

The manager utilised two of his five allowed changes in the 70th minute to bring on Fermin Lopez and Sergi Roberto. Six minutes later, he opted to take Lewandowski off and selected Ferran Torres, a natural winger, to take his place in attack.

Xavi’s very selection of the Spaniard over Roque, who is a central striker by trade, points to the unfair treatment the Brazilian is facing at the club.

To see the club’s €30 million signing face such ostracism just months into his tenure in Spain is far from ideal. The hints given on Monday night, however, point towards what looks like an inevitable departure in June.

Back in second

The biggest takeaway from Barcelona’s win over Real Sociedad last night is undoubtedly its impact on the league standings.

The Blaugranas forfeited the number two position on the league standings last weekend after their 4-2 defeat to Girona.

Michel’s side, however, slipped to a draw against Alaves and Xavi’s side now jumped back to their original position after last night’s result.

Finishing second in La Liga is vital for the men in garnet-and-blue for several reasons going beyond just the prestige of the club.

If the Catalans fail to finish in the top two, they will miss out on a place in the upcoming edition of the Spanish Super Cup and thus directly lose out on a sum close to €8 million. At a time of financial crisis, Barcelona do not have the leeway to afford such a loss.

Failure to finish second also forced the club to participate in two extra rounds of the Copa del Rey next season, and it is well known at this point that early rounds in the cup are better avoided.

Now back in the driver’s seat, Barcelona have it in their hands to secure both perks. Only three games remain in La Liga, and the team must prioritise holding onto the position over any other objective.

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