MX23RW : Sunday, May 22 01:00:52| >> :120:8473:8473:
[monks data]
Aug 15, 2021 at 7pm UK at Camp Nou
4 - 2
Real Sociedad
Pique (19'), Braithwaite (45+2', 59'), Roberto (90+1')
Busquets (57'), Gonzalez Iglesias (84')
FT(HT: 2-0)
Lobete Cienfuegos (82'), Oyarzabal (85')
Zubimendi (37'), Elustondo (61'), Munoz (62'), Le Normand (78')

Preview: Barcelona vs. Real Sociedad - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's La Liga clash between Barcelona and Real Sociedad, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Barcelona will be looking to make the perfect start to their 2021-22 La Liga campaign when they welcome Real Sociedad to Camp Nou on Sunday night.

Ronald Koeman's side finished third in Spain's top flight last term, seven points behind champions Atletico Madrid, while Real Sociedad claimed fifth to secure a spot in the Europa League group stages.

Match preview

Barcelona's Memphis Depay celebrates scoring against Juventus on August 8, 2021© Reuters

The dust has now settled on Lionel Messi's departure, and Barcelona simply cannot dwell on the Argentine's exit, as the Catalan giants prepare for their opening match of the new season, which is a tough assignment against a talented and extremely capable Real Sociedad outfit.

Barcelona are going in search of their 27th Spanish league title in 2021-22 but have ground to make up when taking into account last season, as they finished seven points behind the champions Atletico, who will once again be looking to challenge at the top of the division with a certain Real Madrid.

The club's financial problems have been well-documented, but they have still managed to sign Memphis Depay, Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia on free transfers this summer, and Koeman has an incredibly talented squad, one which is capable of at least challenging for the biggest trophies this term.

Barcelona won last season's Copa del Rey, but they disappointed in the Champions League and only finished two points above fourth-place Sevilla in La Liga. A poor first half of the campaign ultimately cost them the chance to challenge for the title, as their form in the second part of the season was largely impressive.

In terms of pre-season, Koeman's side have played five times, recording four wins, including a strong 3-0 victory over Italian giants Juventus in the Joan Gamper Trophy last weekend, and a repeat of that performance would make it a very difficult assignment for Real Sociedad.

Mikel Oyarzabal in action for Real Sociedad in April 2021© Reuters

The visitors have also played five friendlies over the summer, recording wins over Alaves, Monaco and Eibar, in addition to suffering defeats to AZ and Osasuna, losing 3-1 to the latter on August 6.

Real Sociedad finished fifth in La Liga last term, which was their highest placing since 2012-13; they were 15 points behind fourth-place Sevilla, but an impressive record of 17 wins, 11 draws and 10 defeats brought them 62 points, one point clear of sixth-place Real Betis.

Imanol Alguacil's side have had a quiet transfer window, with only Diego Rico and Mathew Ryan arriving to boost the squad, but they have thus far kept hold of their star players, and the squad should be good enough to at least replicate what they achieved last term.

The White and Blues have back-to-back home matches against Rayo Vallecano and Levante after the trip to Barcelona, and the team were strong on their own patch last term, picking up 33 points from 19 matches, which is actually just five fewer than Barcelona managed at Camp Nou.

Real Sociedad also more than held their own on their travels, though, boasting the fifth-best away record in Spain's top flight last term, picking up 29 points from their 19 fixtures.

Barcelona pre-season form:
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W

Real Sociedad pre-season form:
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • L

Team News

Barcelona's Martin Braithwaite celebrates scoring against Juventus on August 8, 2021© Reuters

Barcelona will be missing a whole host of first-team players for this weekend's contest, with Aguero, Ousmane Dembele, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Oscar Mingueza and Ansu Fati all definitely unavailable for selection.

Clement Lenglet and Frenkie de Jong are also unlikely to be risked following recent injuries, meaning that Koeman does not have many experienced options for the opening match of the campaign.

Pedri is now back in first-team training with the club and could feature alongside Sergi Roberto and Sergio Busquets as part of a midfield three, while Martin Braithwaite could potentially get the nod at centre-forward, with Antoine Griezmann and summer arrival Memphis featuring in the wide positions.

As for Real Sociedad, Nacho Monreal, Carlos Fernandez and Ryan are expected to be unavailable, but the Basque outfit have not reported any other injury concerns at this stage.

Mikel Oyarzabal, Mikel Merino and Martin Zubimendi are all set to travel to Camp Nou and should be in the starting XI for the visitors, while Alexander Isak, who scored 17 La Liga goals last term, is expected to lead the line, with the returning Willian Jose on the bench.

Asier Illarramendi is in line to make the squad, having seemingly overcome his injury issues, while Portu could also be given the nod in an attacking area, with the visitors likely to line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Neto; Dest, Pique, Araujo, Alba; Roberto, Busquets, Pedri; Memphis, Braithwaite, Griezmann

Real Sociedad possible starting lineup:
Remiro; Gorosabel, Elustondo, Le Normand, Zaldua; Zubimendi, Merino; Portu, D Silva, Oyarzabal; Isak

SM words green background

We say: Barcelona 1-1 Real Sociedad

Real Sociedad are very dangerous opponents for Barcelona on the opening weekend, and we would not be too surprised to see an away win on Sunday night. That said, there is still plenty of quality in the home side's ranks, and we are expecting the two teams to play out a draw at Camp Nou.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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Barcelona's Memphis Depay celebrates scoring against Juventus on August 8, 2021
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CReal Madrid38268480314986
3Atletico MadridAtletico37208963422168
5Real Betis381981162402265
6Real Sociedad37171193935462
8Athletic Bilbao371413104335855
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