Real Sociedad – Barcelona: Second-half midfield reshuffle helps Barcelona rally against an organised yet wasteful Real Sociedad (1-2)
A rethink from Ernesto Valverde between the half-time break and the hour mark at Anoeta made for a marked change in the poise and purpose of his Barcelona side during their 2-1 fightback against Real Sociedad. After an attempt to rest key players ahead of Champions League action, Asier Garitano’s intelligent game plan forced Barcelona to revert to type with their substitutions.
Real Sociedad play host to Barça at Anoeta, just eight months after Ernesto Valverde’s side managed their first league win over them since 2007. In January, the away side came from 2-0 down to win 4-2, and have started off the new LaLiga campaign brightly with three wins from three. A similar fightback was required on Saturday afternoon.
Asier Garitano is the new man in the hosts’ dug-out, after impressing as Leganés boss in multiple divisions in Spain, and his start to life with Real Sociedad has been a mixed bag. Although their opening three league clashes have been away from home, owing to the completion of building work at their stadium ahead of this particular clash, the hosts have thrown away multiple chances to seal further points.
Real Sociedad was missing some key players, like Willian José, Sandro Ramírez and Diego Llorrente. Garitano chose to set his team up in a 4-4-1-1 base formation. Because of the heavy defensive duties by Oyarzabal, sometimes Sociedad operated in a 4-4-2 diamond or even a 5-3-2. FC Barcelona played their trademark 4-3-3, albeit with a lot of positional freedom for the wingers and Jordi Alba. The positioning of both teams is displayed in the diagram below. The ball is at the feet . . .