Preview: FC Barcelona vs Real Sociedad

The 2012/13 Liga season starts for Barça tomorrow evening with a game against Real Sociedad at Camp Nou (kick off 9pm local time). After four years of non-stop success under the guidance of Pep Guardiola, the big question now is whether that success can continue with Tito Vilanova in charge.

With very few changes to the squad after one of the quietest summers in transfer market history, and a continuation of the playing style and philosophy, there is little to suggest that Barça will notice much difference. There is a concern, perhaps, that we will miss Guardiola’s skill at motivation, but having seen the five preseason games there are no signs of any relaxation.

Of course we might have done more to have signed either Thiago Silva or Javi Martinez, however, I respect the fact that we don’t get silly in the transfer market, and the asking price for these two players (like for Danny Agger) was too high. The final details on the Alex Song transfer still being negotiated as I write so it is difficult to comment too much, though I really don’t think we should pay more than €15 million.

Whether Song signs or not, I believe our squad is just about as good as it’s ever been. There are doubts about the back-up for the centre back position as after Piqué, Mascherano and Puyol the next in line is Marc Bartrá. Puyol is now 34 and while he may still be around for two or three more seasons he has had more than his fair share of injury problems which suggests that our “fourth” centre back may well end up playing in a lot of games. Personally I’ve always thought Bartrá is the most promising of our current crop of young defenders and perhaps it is time for him to get this chance, but I’m a little worried still that he can take the occasional risk that might get punished more ruthlessly at the top level.

In midfield we have lost Keita as back-up but presumably that is the role that Song will have. However, with the main three of Xavi-Busquets-Iniesta and with Cesc, Thiago and Dos Santos as cover, this is an area where we are already very strong. While with David Villa on his way back we will see a battle for places with Pedro and Alexis for who will accompany Leo Messi in attack. If these four players stay fit it will be very difficult for our other forwards Afellay and Cuenca to get much of a look in, but it is a long season so we shall see.

Vilanova has everybody available for tomorrow’s opening game except for Thiago who is still recovering from the shin problem that kept him out of the Olympics, while it seems David Villa is undergoing a certain comeback plan which will see him eased back gradually. We should be especially careful with Real Sociedad who last season gave us two tough games. At Anoeta last September they came back from 0-2 to draw 2-2, then at Camp Nou Tello and Messi put Barça two up before Carlos Vela made the final score 2-1 with 15 minutes to go, leaving a nervous finish.

It could be close again tomorrow but for some reason I feel confident of a big win. Messi has been looking very good in what we have seen in preseason and I expect him to start the season with a bang. Hopefully there will be no repeat of what happened to Eusebio Sacristan’s Barça B last night against Almeria. After taking an early 2-0 lead at the Miniestadi through Dongou and Deulofeu Barça let the lead slip and it was 2-2 after only 19 minutes. Left back Carles Planas was sent off just before half time after a second yellow for a stupid handball. Almeria went 2-3 up early in the second half before Deulofeu scored a brilliant 40-yard free kick to even things up again. Almeria took advantage of Barça’s numerical inferiority near the end with two more goals before Deulofeu completed his hat-trick direct from a corner to leave the final score a disappointing but incredible 4-5.

Barça’s possible starting XI: Valdés; Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Alba; Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta; Pedro, Messi, Alexis.

My prediction: Barça 4 Real Sociedad 0

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4 Responses to Preview: FC Barcelona vs Real Sociedad

  1. Pingback: Preview: FC Barcelona vs Real Sociedad | My Blog

  2. layibiyi says:

    The season begins, some much needed football…good luck to the boys

    And i must add that its sad la liga has totally become a 2 horse race…it doesnt matter who is better between barca and madrid, the league will most likely go to who has the fittest and deepest squad between the 2 and we know who that is at the moment. Even Valencia games vs either of the 2 are becoming straight run games especially for madrid. I really hope I would be proved wrong and we have an exciting season. The 2 horse race is also ’exciting’ in its way till somebody starts pulling away.

  3. Fredegar says:

    Football again! Yeah!
    I must say the end of last season left me completely exhausted, and I certainly needed a good break, so the Olympics fitted just perfectly in.
    And then we go again, and with a lot to hope for as at the start of any season.
    As I haven’t seen any friendly, I don’t know much what kind of football we will be playing, it will be fascinatig to see that developping.
    About Song, I find him a very interesting player for us, especially if we can have him for something around 15M: he’s young and still has potential to develop, but he already has shedloads of experience, playing near the top of the English league, CL and international football. Also he is an almost like for like replacement for Keita, but he has already played (rarely) as a centerback for Arsenal, so seeing how much we like to transform midfielders in centerbacks these days, this coul be interesting!
    As for Villa, well, I hope he can come back with nothing lost and show us how much we missed him last season. And a final word for Affelay: he seems to have done well in preseason, and was almost a starter at the Euros, he must now be well integrated, so I hope he can show us his worth this year!
    Visca Barça!

  4. mjmare says:

    Finally, Barca are back…
    Interesting to see, how Barca fare this season – should be good though with the same players and Jordi Alba, he will add more dimension to the team and in attack.

    Song… i’m not sure about, is he really needed, he will stly be on the bench, and Sergi Roberto has been performing quite well and JDS is now in the 1st team, thought he would take over from Keita..

    Looking forward to a good game
    Barca 3-1

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