Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images
Barcelona will be out to secure redemption when they face Real Sociedad in their return to La Liga on Saturday, having suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time in almost 12 months this past week.
Manager Luis Enrique's side surrendered a 2-0 loss at Malaga last Saturday before suffering a 3-0 hammering in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final clash against Juventus on Tuesday evening.
La Real are in a slightly more confident mood after beating Sporting Gijon 3-1 at home on Monday night, and La Liga's sixth-placed outfit will be hopeful after drawing 1-1 at home to Barca on home soil earlier this season.
Sociedad have won eight of their 15 away games so far this season—only two fewer than Barcelona and Real Madrid—and aren't likely to encounter the Blaugrana in a more vulnerable state than the one they're in at present.
Read on for all the latest team news heading into Saturday's La Liga showdown, complete with fixture information and a breakdown of the matchup's biggest headlines.
Date: Saturday, April 15
Time: 7:45 p.m. BST/2:45 p.m. ET
Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona
TV Info: Sky Sports 3 (UK)
|Barcelona vs. Real Sociedad Form Guide|
|Juventus 3-0 Barcelona||Real Sociedad 3-1 Sporting Gijon|
|Malaga 2-0 Barcelona||Atletico Madrid 1-0 Real Sociedad|
|Barcelona 3-0 Sevilla||Real Sociedad 1-1 Leganes|
|Granada 1-4 Barcelona||Alaves 1-0 Real Sociedad|
|Barcelona 4-2 Valencia||Real Sociedad 0-2 Athletic Bilbao|
The biggest concern for Enrique leading up to Saturday's duel with Sociedad concerns his attempt to replace Neymar, who will begin a three-match suspension for his show of dissent during Saturday's trip to Malaga.
Joaquin Maroto of Spanish daily AS reported the Brazilian's one-match ban for the red card he picked up in that loss was increased to three games after he applauded the fourth official. Real Madrid TV presenter Phil Kitromilides confirmed that suspension will include arguably the biggest domestic fixture of Barca's season:
Aleix Vidal and Rafinha remain the long-term absentees for Barcelona, with the former out for the season with an ankle injury. The club recently announced the latter will be missing for "around four months" after undergoing knee surgery last week.
Barca will be happy to welcome back star defender Gerard Pique and midfielder Ivan Rakitic after they served one-match suspensions during the defeat to Malaga last Saturday, although it may be too soon for Arda Turan to return from injury:
FC Barcelona @FCBarcelona
⚽️ News from training, with @ArdaTuran working out along with Aleñá and Carbonell of Barça B: https://t.co/A72xdQna0Z 🔴🔵#ForçaBarça https://t.co/W9gEh0iGzq
Real Sociedad have no new injury concerns as they make their way to Catalonia, although forward Juanmi will be missing for the visit after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against Sporting.
Right-back Alvaro Odriozola, meanwhile, looks likely to remain on La Real's sidelines after suffering a muscle injury against Atletico Madrid at the start of the month, meaning 20-year-old Zaldua appears likely to retain his place in defence.
PreviewNeymar will begin a three-match suspension against Real Sociedad.Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images
It seems only too likely Barcelona will return to a four-man defence for the visit of Sociedad on Saturday after seeing a three-man backline exploited all too often during their defeat to Juventus in midweek.
The Guardian's Michael Cox explained how a defensive trio of Pique, Samuel Umtiti and Jeremy Mathieu was torn apart in Turin, and it may be the boss reinstalls Jordi Alba at left-back and Sergi Roberto at right-back this weekend:
Michael Cox @Zonal_Marking
Juventus 3-0 Barcelona: Juve exploit Barca’s disjointed backline with two fine Dybala strikes https://t.co/0QC62gxoCX https://t.co/3kUSerRCYp
Barca's defence will be a critical factor in deciding how the hosts fare against La Real, too, considering Sociedad have failed to score in either of their last two away games against Atletico Madrid and Alaves—losing 1-0 to both opponents.
But manager Eusebio Sacristan's side nevertheless have the fifth-most victories of any team in La Liga this term (16) as La Liga's official Twitter account recently celebrated their return to the division's top six:
[email protected] go sixth ahead of Basque neighbours Eibar & Athletic in the battle for the European places in #LaLigaSantander https://t.co/Ket3zvmMsJ
The Basque outfit are once again bearing down on the European qualification places and have little to lose by chasing three points against a Barcelona team that's on the ropes and will be without mercurial Neymar this Saturday.
Failure to get a win on the board at the Camp Nou will see Barca—already three points behind leaders Real and having played a game more—fall further behind in the title race, in a clutch game for Enrique and Co.
Source : http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2703249-barcelona-vs-real-sociedad-team-news-preview-live-stream-tv-info