Preview – Real Sociedad vs Barcelona

FINALLY, the dreaded dribble of the international break (but we can mention quickly the blaugrana was again hugely important in the two Spain games) is over and Barça are back!  And get ready guys, cause we will have 7 games coming our way in just 23 days.  Tomorrow at 6 pm we will face Real Sociedad in San Sebastián for our first away game of the year and 2nd game overall.  We have had good news on the injury front with 4 first team players returning to full fitness, they are Afellay, Adriano, Maxwell, and PUYOL.  Our brave captain first picked up this injury 8 months ago, and hasn’t played since the Champions League final more than 3 months ago.  It’s pretty amazing how we managed to suceed without him, thanks in a big part to the amazing Mascherano, but having him back will be hugely important for us and the national team.  Let’s hope the brave mountian man can stay fit and get back to his best, when he is the best.

Let’s take a quick glance at our opponents from the North.  They finished 15th last season, but only 2 points off the drop.  But, Soceidad play a really nice brand of football.  Last year they gave us a decent fight and in particular against Madrid played very well and if not for the horrendous finishing of key man Antoine Griezmann they could have won or at least drawn.  Xabi Prieto is the captain and has been there since I can remember.  Also look out for the two loanees in McDonald Mariga and Carlos Vela from Inter Milan and Arsenal respectively.  Mariga came to Inter from Parma in 2010 with a lot of hype, particuarly after he nearly joined financial dopers Manchester City.  However he didn’t quite thrive last year so it appears the club feel the 24 year old Kenyan sensation needs first team football to refind his feet.  Vela is a Mexican striker with a lot of raw talent and skills but has struggled to really become a big time player.  He goes absent in games and simply isn’t prolific.  Still on his day and in the right circumstances he can do some lovely stuff, so I hope he does well.  Also look out for Chilean goalie Bravo, forward Llorente (Joseba), and Illaramendi, who has lovely skills.

Ok, back to us.  We travelled with 20 players today, essentially our entire first team, with the exception of Piqué who is sitll recovering from his knock.  Therefore, we could line up with essentially anything tomorrow, so I don’t see a need to even try and predict as we all know the possible combinations and permutations.  We all expect a win tomorrow and with the pressure and intensity of competition from Real Madrid this season, most feel the margin for error to win the league will be tiny and dropped points against “this sort of team” just cannot happen.

There has been oodles of articles and talk the past week, both in Spain and outside, about La Liga and how it’s uncompetitive and an unsustainable model.  Within Spain, this fight is being chaired by Del Nido (Sevilla) and Fernando Roig (Villarreal).  Personally, I think there definitely is turth in the arguement and some more equality would be nice.  However, I do not take it near the extent that Del Nido does, after calling La Liga not only the biggest load of “rubbish” in Europe, but the world.  I do feel Barça and Real need to adopt a more equitable distribution of TV rights (despite the fact these clubs sell the league), like in England, however I truly believe most overlook just how good the two are.  Sure Germany has been very competitive and exciting the last years with several different winners, but the truth also is that Bayern Munich aren’t very good at all, and if either ourselves or Real were in Germany we’d likely win the leauge each and every year judging on the Germans rather poor European record.

And as much as the Prem love to say they are so competitive and have the best league in the world, and much of that is the truth (though they all love to look over the fact its due to selling their tradition to foreigners), when I look at the last 5 years I only see 2 clubs winning, and if I look at the past 10 years it’s only 3.  Comparing that to Spain, it’s been 2 in the last 5 years, and 4 in the past 10.

Here is the total list for tomorrow, enjoy the game guys, I’m really quite excited:

GK:      Valdés, Pinto

DEF:    Alves, Puyol, Adriano, Abidal, Maxwell, Fontàs

MID:    Fábregas, Xavi, Iniesta, Thiago, Keita, Busquets, Mascherano, Afellay

FWD:   Alexis, Messi, Pedro, Villa

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11 Responses to Preview – Real Sociedad vs Barcelona

  1. barcacentralnic says:

    The only danger I can see for us here is if we are affected by the Fifa bug. Then again we have had some slip ups under Pep in early league matches as the defeats against Numancia (2008) and Hercules (2010) show. However, the added competition for places should make sure that nobody gets complacent, and I’ll stick my neck out and say we will score four goals tomorrow. I agree with Blaugranaboy on the TV money, and the smaller clubs should get a bigger share. This is the unfortunate side to the game as it reflects society with the rich getting richer while the rest suffer as a consequence. The fact that we are now in crisis also affects the game, we have seen already this season with the players’ strike, and now the smaller clubs are rebelling too. Will this lead to a proper overhaul of the game? I have no idea, but something will have to be done.

  2. barcacentralomer says:

    @Bboy: La Liga needs to get its act together as far as the distribution of TV money is concerned because whether we as Barca fans like to admit it or not, there’s only 1 team among the other 19 who can stop us winning La Liga and personally I’d like to see a stronger Valencia,Villarreal, Sevilla etc. so that we can raise our game even higher. As much as I like Barca steamrolling any opposition, if Real and Barca keep getting stronger every season and the rest of the clubs struggle with their finances, then perhaps there are only going to be 2 proper contests in the entire La Liga season aka the Classicos.

    While I agree that EPL has basically been Man U and either Arsenal/Chelsea over the past decade, even if its due to football sugar daddies, at least Man U are being challenged by the likes of Man City and Chelsea along with the traditional rivals Liverpool and Arsenal. If I’m right Valenica were closer to relegation last season than the title in terms of points.

    In addition La Liga needs to revamp its marketing strategy and try to go global if it wants to even survive let alone challenge the supremacy of the EPL in the long run. Even though the quality of the football in La Liga is technically superior to the EPL, the latter is light years ahead as a product. The fan following that the EPL and its big clubs enjoy in the world especially Asia is amazing. Valencia, Villarreal and Sevilla probably play more attractive football than say Liverpool and Chelsea, yet football fans in Asia and Africa know very little about them because La Liga is too lazy to reach out to them.

  3. layibiyi says:

    aT least the spanish FA can not complain about the current state given that they currently have the 2 best clubs in the world(one possibly the world’s greatest) and one of the greatest national sides ever. I find it hard to believe England would have given this up. They would have spinned it in a positive way also. If this is an era of greatest sides in spain, they have to give something up. Its not as if these great sides only maul other spanish teams, they maul anything on their part. So will it be better if madrid n barcelona were less stronger, won the league with about 5 points from the 4th, manage to win an occasional champions league by penalties against man utd. That would probably make everyone happy, right?

  4. blaugranaboy says:

    i agree with much of that and im quite sure sooner than later the TV rights will be split more fairly, it simply has to be done. however i feel this is just a cycle and if you look back to any league over the past 30 or 40 years the best 2 or 3 teams win 7 times every 10 years with another team popping up here and there. its just how it is and football is the most popular sport in the world without competition. barca and real are just much stronger than anyone in europe right now, but it wont last forever. it cant be a duopoly for the rest of time. so im really not stressing. valencia and them give us tough matches every year but we are just quite superior at the moment. eventually some manager will put together a great team, with great tactics, and belief and they will win the league one year and compete for a few years. i have no doubt about it. layibiy is right, we are a historic team and league at the moment, so its not surprise we are doing historic things. sure we steam roll la liga, but we pretty much stream roll europe too.

    i still maintain that id rather have la liga more like this than the prem. i never want to see la liga infested by this horrendous trend of super daddies, with getafe and malaga already being too much. the prem love to claim how great they are, but its not like they made it more competitive on purpose, its simply been an unforeseen consequence of their clubs publicly listing in order to more competitive within europe.

    ill agree the prem have marketed far better since they let the arab and russian money in. la liga as an organization is extremely poorly run, thats rather known. making it more global will def help, but the counter argument is that they will make it global with barca and madrid, not the rest. however living in africa i can tell u la liga is a big product here. its more popular than the premiership over the continent.

  5. barcacentralomer says:

    @Layibiyi: I never said anything about Real and Barca getting any weaker, rather I stressed upon the need for more equitable sharing of the TV rights which would improve the overall standard of La Liga and in turn make Barca and Real raise their standard even further.

    Moreover, Barca and Spain’s success has little to do with the Spanish FA or La Liga. Barca and Spain are on top of the football world thanks mainly to a a ‘golden generation’ [as cliched as the term usually is] of Barca youth academy products.

  6. barcacentralomer says:

    @Bboy: I share your dislike for football sugar daddies. I’m not advocating those for La Liga, just that unless La Liga begins to seriously work towards solving the TV money and other issues, we are going to be left with a league that will be contested by Barca and Real and 18 others. The players’ strike is another example of the poor financial state of the other clubs. I understand and agree to some extent with you regarding the ‘cycle’ phase in every league. In La Liga its usually always been the Big 2 like the Big 4 in the EPL but IMO the increasing gulf in class between the Big 2 and the rest[ as evident with the points gap between the Bg 2 and the third team] could mean a two sided league for many years to come.

    I was surprised when you said La Liga is very big in Africa and that its bigger than the EPL. From my limited knowledge of African football fans courtesy of Supersport 3 – I always thought the EPL Big 4 were the centre of everybody’s attention.

  7. layibiyi says:

    @barcacentralnomer, yes you never said anything about that and i never addressed you about that. I wasn’t speaking to anybody in particular. I was just airing my own views.

    But you say you want increased standard for other teams so barca and madrid can raise their standards further. Arent their standards as high as possible (even compared to historic teams already). And how did they get to such standards? did they go to another league? As much noise that is made about the standards of other premier league teams, all the trophies contested by premier league teams end up in the hands of just man utd or chelsea and now man city. The others have nothing to show, Players want to leave arsenal and tottenham to those three.
    A football expert here supposedly put his money on barca to put 5 pass real sociedad and man utd to draw against bolton at reebok. You already know the scorelines now(hernandez is trying to get a hattrick to join rooney who has his already). My point is that la liga teams are not as weak as people have made them out to be. They helped madrid and barca reach the standards such that they can maul any premiership team. And like blaugranaboy suggested, these things come in phases. Its not going to happen. It happens to every league according to history.

    I just left africa and epl was more popular in my country because of obvious reasons (marketing and english).

    On to the important stuff, we have dropped 2 points. i think we forgot how tough anoeta could be.

  8. blaugranaboy says:

    @centralomer – im totally with you on the tv right renegotiation, i dont think anyone can question that and im sure within a year or so it will be done. the way the prem does it is the best, 50% is shared totally, but then the other 50% goes in two portions but rewards the best teams. 25% in terms of tv popularity and 25% on league finish. i expect some thing of the sort to happen in spain. there is also no argument that the league is run poorly by the LFP in many respects, but i think you also have to say that individuals clubs have to take some blame for risky financial management that was exposed during the credit crunch.

    ive actually been looking into all this competitive issue and in the last 5 years 2 teams have won La Liga and 3 teams have won in the Prem, and over 10 years its actually 4 in Spain versus only 3 in England. The points difference between 1 and 4 are bigger in Spain, but the net result is very similar. This is how all sports work, with the exception of the NFL. Every major league in Europe over the past 30 years has a big 2 or 3 win 80% of the leagues with another team coming up strong here and there. just how it is. barca and real wont win the spanish league forever, i have no doubt in my mind that in 5 or 6 years we will see another team win.

    the prem is very popular here no doubt, its traditionally the major product. im in south africa, and down here la liga has grabbed a lot of fans in the last 5 years, particularly with the black population. plus in northern africa real and barca have always been bigger and they also hold a lot of support in western africa. la liga is trying to gain share in asia also, with one initiative putting barca on earlier to let viewers watch, like this evening.

    however im with layibiy to quite a great extent in that the weakness of other teams is exaggerated in la liga and the fact that we are Madrid are just so good is overlooked. (that isnt too say i dont agree that there is a need question the trend) this is the best barca team EVER, in over 110 years, so yeah we steamroll a lot, but this is a historic moment, historic things should happen. plus i actually think la liga teams dont believe enough, and thats why we win so easily at times. i know u cant take a sample of oney, but look at tonight, they hustled us so hard and made us uneasy, and if teams had more heart and belief i reckon both ourselves and madrid would drop more points. we get hard games every year, its just that we have managed to find that something special and win more often than not. we’ve been just as dominant in europe as well, taking champions of other leagues to shreds, so if we can do that there, how is it unrealistic to smash zaragoza by 6? ppl argue and say germany is great cause its so competitive, but the quality of football isnt as nice as spain and look at them in the CL, they’ve looked miserable mostly. sure france is competitive and lyon are not winning each year, but have you watched the french league? and italy, well, look at how they have done in europe, the reason its so competitive there is, in my view, not cause they are all so strong but they are all quite mediocre in the last 5 or 6 years.

    so in summary, does la liga need some tweaks to better it? yes. does it need some more proactive and fresh leaders? without question. but is it only the fault of barca and madrid taking the tv money? no. and is it really such poor compared to the rest of europe because we have dominated recently? id say def not.

  9. layibiyi says:

    yeah, i’ve always said it that the nfl is the perfect idea of a league…

    but even if we have a european super league like that which has been suggested, ‘This Barca’ team would still steamroll teams over 2 legs.

    so, in summary, i think we have always all agreed that spanish clubs deserve some more money. But ‘my opinion’ is that the disparity issue during this current reign of barca and madrid has more to do with the current teams being historic more than the reason of the gap getting wider. Allowing the noise to get into your head takes away from barca’s incredible performances. People would be watching a la liga game and barca wins 5-0, somebody would just shrug it off, mouthing of about the quality of the league. meanwhile, the same could happen to man utd.

  10. barcacentralomer says:

    @Bboy & laybiyi: Good to hear ur views. I understand where you’re coming from guys. However just to clarify – when I speak of ‘strength’ I’m also referring to the off-the-pitch financial mess of the other 18 clubs which will eventually have a detrimental impact on their performances on the pitch in the long run. The situation with Hercules last season and the players going on strike right before the season kicked off are all indicators that La Liga and the 18 clubs need to get things sorted. The TV rights money re-distribution will help that process.

    Yes, I agree Barca’s dominance has more to do with their fantastic squad and management than their financial superiority. It truly is a privilege to be a Barca fan in these times.

  11. layibiyi says:

    yeah, definitely….i dont think anybody can be happy with the current financial situation of most clubs

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