MX23RW : Sunday, September 19 04:17:22| >> :120:39636:39636:
Nov 28, 2015 at 3pm UK at Camp Nou
Real Sociedad
Neymar (22', 53'), Suarez (41'), Messi (91')
FT(HT: 2-0)

Preview: Barcelona vs. Real Sociedad

Sports Mole previews the La Liga match between league leaders Barcelona and Real Sociedad at Camp Nou.

Barcelona will be hoping to extend their lead at the top of the La Liga table when they host Real Sociedad on Saturday.

The defending champions can secure a fifth straight win in the Spanish top flight, while the visitors come into the match off the back of their first win in three.


Lionel Messi of Barcelona celebrates scoring his teams second goal during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between FC Barcelona and AS Roma at Camp Nou on November 24, 2015© Getty Images

Luis Enrique's side confirmed their status as league leaders with an emphatic win over Real Madrid in El Clasico last weekend, thrashing their rivals 4-0 at the Bernabeu.

That match also saw the return of Lionel Messi from a two-month absence with a knee injury, and the Argentine was on the scoresheet earlier this week, helping the team secure a 6-1 win over Roma in the Champions League.

Messi's return will be a worry for Barcelona's league rivals, as the champions have coped well in his absence, conceding just one goal in their last four league matches, while winning five of their last six, leaving them four points clear of Atletico Madrid at the top of the standings.

Barcelona's performance against Real last weekend makes them the top scorers in the Spanish top flight, having found the back of the net 29 times in 12 matches so far this season, led by Neymar. The Brazilian is thought to be negotiating a contract extension with the club, having netted 12 goals in the league this campaign.

The team had struggles at the back at the start of the season, but have gone from strength to strength in recent weeks, leaving them conceding an average of just one goal per match, while keeping five clean sheets.

This match falls just a couple of days before a Copa del Rey tie for the Catalan side, as they host Villanovense at Camp Nou during the week, needing to win after sharing a goalless draw with the third-tier side in the first leg, so Enrique could choose to rotate his squad, particularly after two big matches in the last week.

Recent form: LWWWWW
Recent form (all competitions): WWWWWW

Real Sociedad

Real Sociedad's players celebrate a goal during the Spanish league football match Real Sociedad vs Atletico de Madrid at the Anoeta stadium in San Sebastian on November 9, 2014© Getty Images

Real Sociedad returned to action following the international break last weekend with a new man at the helm, having parted company with David Moyes earlier this month.

Eusebio, who had a three-year spell as Barcelona B coach under Luis Enrique until February this year, made a winning start to life at Anoeta, leading his side to a 2-0 victory over Sevilla last weekend.

The win was the team's first in three outings, and moves them up to 14th in the standings, just four points off the top half of the table, and two clear of the relegation zone.

Despite their struggles at the start of the 2015-16 campaign, this weekend's visitors have had one of the best defences in the top flight this season, keeping six clean sheets; only Atletico have kept their opponents out more often.

Goals have been elusive at times for La Real though, as they have failed to find the back of the net in half of their league fixtures in this campaign. Imanol Agirretxe has shown an upturn in form in front of goal recently though, netting four times in as many games.

Surprisingly, Sociedad have picked up more points away from home this season, with two of their three wins coming on the road, although they face a side that have a 100% home record this season.

Recent form: LLWLLW

Team News

Sergi Roberto #24 of Barcelona makes a break against Thailand XI during the international friendly match between Thailand XI and FC Barcelona at Rajamangala Stadium on August 7, 2013© Getty Images

The home side are expected to be without Sergi Roberto after he sprained his ankle in the win over Roma in the Champions League earlier this week.

Javier Mascherano sat out the match against the Serie A side on Tuesday after picking up a knock in the El Clasico win, but he could come back in.

Meanwhile, the visitors will be without Asier Illarramendi as he picked up his fifth booking of the season last time out, leaving him to serve a one-match suspension.

Alain Oyarzun, Oier Olazabal and Raul Navas could all feature after missing last weekend's fixture through injury, but Jonathas and David Zurutuza are still sidelined.

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Bravo, Pique, Alves, Mascherano, Alba, Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta, Suarez, Neymar, Messi

Real Sociedad possible starting lineup:
Rulli, Gonzalez, Martinez, Berchiche, Elustondo, Bruma, Prieto, Pardo, Canales, Bergara, Agirretxe

Head To Head

Real Sociedad have proved a difficult side for Barcelona to beat over the last couple of seasons, with the Spanish champions defeating this weekend's opponents just once in the last four meetings between the two sides in all competitions.

La Real have only avoided defeat at Camp Nou once in the league, sharing a 1-1 draw with Barcelona in 1994.

In 40 meetings between the two sides, Barcelona have won 24 times, while Sociedad have seven wins, and seven fixtures have resulted in draws. All of Sociedad's wins have come on home soil.

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We say: Barcelona 3-0 Real Sociedad

Real Sociedad showed signs of improving under their new coach last weekend, but they come up against a Barcelona side in imperious form boosted by the return of Messi from injury. Barcelona have scored goals for fun in their last two outings, and rarely struggle against La Real at home, so it is difficult to see anything other than a comfortable home win for Luis Enrique's side.

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