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Deportivo La Coruña
22 February 2014
• Estadio Municipal de Anoeta, Donostia-San Sebastián
Referee: David Fernandez Borbalan
• Attendance: 30485
A. Song 32' (own goal)
A. Griezmann 54'
L. Messi 36'
The hosts will get a pat on the back from Real and Atletico, who both can move three clear by the end of the weekend. That's it from me folks, it's been a pleasure!
Sociedad pull off a monumental result here that puts them right back on the tails of Athletico Bilbao for fourth place. A Song own goal, and further strikes from Griezmann and Zurutuza round off a well deserved win, despite Messi's goal to make it 1-1 what seems like ages ago.
90' + 3'
90' + 2'
Gorka Gorka Elustondo Urkiola
90' + 1'
Final change for the visitors as Elustondo departs to another standing ovation, having forced the first goal. On comes Pardo.
Three minutes of added time to be played, but it could well be 30, Barca don't look close to be scoring.
Messi gets closed down at the top of the box from another decent shooting position and doesn't come close to getting an effort away. That may just be that for Barca, who look utterly and completely devoid of ideas.
There's simply nothing from Barcelona in an attacking sense. In fact, Sociedad are the ones holding on to the ball for the majority of the time. Make no mistake, this is a vital result in terms of the title race with three teams virtually inseparable at the top.
Sociedad make their second change of the game as Canales, outstanding on the night, departs. He's finally showing the form and potential that made Real Madrid sign him from Racing Santander all those years ago.
NEARLY A FOURTH GOAL! Prieto holds onto the ball intelligently in a tight space inside the box, and manages to square it across to Vela, who strikes the base of the post! So close for the hosts and Barca nearly collapse again!
The crowd has not let up their cheering since the third goal, and why would they? This has been a splendid team performance that deserves more than three points, if that were possible.
The expected onslaught has not happened in the way that Barca would have liked in the closing stages. They have been reduced to a series of pumped passes into the area that Sociedad have no problem in dealing with.
Looks like Barca are playing, or at least attempting to play with almost two at the back in Pique and Bartra, with Busquets dropping deep when he has to. Adriano will be expected to bomb forward at every opportunity. Sociedad have shored up their midfield to combat the threat.
Barca starting to see more and more of the ball, and Sociedad respond by taking off Griezmann to a standing ovation, with Argarate coming on in his stead. Barca also respond with another attack minded substitution, taking off Montoya for Sanchez.
It just sums up Messi's night so far as no less than three players close him down just inside the box when it looked for a second like he had a shooting chance from a Neymar cutback. Sociedad doing the business at both ends of the pitch.
Yellow Card Canales
Booking here for Canales, who was a little to eager and a little to late in closing down Busquets, tripping the midfielder after he released the ball. Still a lone and tiny blot on a faultless performance so far today, as his creativity and incisiveness on the ball have been too much for Barca to handle.
It's all falling apart from a Barca perspective, as their play on the pitch shows no signs of reversing this deficit as of yet. Martino is struggling to get his messages across the the players after being sent to the stands, with his assistant having little luck in stopping the rot.
Good opportunity for Adriano there, brought about by a timely deflection from his shot at the top of the box. But the nick off Zaldua rolls Sociedad's way in the end, just flashing around the outside of the post!
A lot of sides will be loving this result, not least Real and Atletico Madrid, who could both be three points clear of the Catalans by the end of play today. Manchester City will also be given some real hope of overturning their 2-0 deficit in Europe after watching this defensive display. If the likes of Griezmann and Canales can cause this much damage, imagine what a fit-again Sergio Aguero would do!
All guns a blazing now for Barcelona, who really have no other choice. Alex Song, who has had a shocker, is replaced by Fabregas. Safe to say that including him alongside Busquets was a disaster both defensively and offensively.
Assist Antoine Griezmann
Griezmann was the architect, playing in Zurutuza expertly behind the back four, and the latter did the rest, flicking a deft finish past Valdes! It's 3-1 to Sociedad!
SOCIEDAD HAVE ANOTHER!!!!
WOW, the visitors very nearly get that response in instantaneous fashion for the second time! Bravo is forced to really work for the first time, as both Pique and Song attack a ball into the box, only for the Sociedad keeper to tip it away excellently!
That strike was Griezmann's 19th of the campaign in all competitions, and really, it's the very least of what Sociedad deserve, they've simply ran the show so far! Barca have tons of work to do to get themselves back into this game!
Assist Carlos Vela
Goal Antoine Griezmann
BACK IN THE LEAD! The home side get their noses deservedly back in front, as a swift counter attack sees Vela cross low for Girezmann to turn home, despite a touch from Valdes!
SOCIEDAD BACK IN FRONT!
By far the best chance of the second half. Canales once again whips in a devilish ball from a set piece, and Gonzalez meets it, but he somehow misses the target from a great position! Valdes was caught out badly there but was bailed out by Gonzalez's inability to finish.
Yellow Card Piqué
Barca make their first positive play of the second period, as Zaluda makes an important clearance off a Pedro strike. The resulting corner sees Bartra connect with Iniesta's delivery, but Bravo does not have to move to save it comfortably.
Another opening for the home side, not the greatest chance, but still something for the Barca defence to think about. Canales, who has been impressive all game, plays a corner to the near post for Griezmann to attack, but he misses the target.
Yet another good attack from Sociedad to start this second half. It's initiated by Vela, who drives past three players before releasing Griezmann on the left hand side, but the end ball from the Frenchman is ahead of any of his teammates.
Here we go again.
A very entertaining and absorbing opening 45, with Sociedad giving Barca a run for their money every step of the way. They deservedly opened the scoring with an own goal from Alex Song just after the half hour mark, but Lionel Messi leveled the scoring with a clinical finish moments later. The Anoeta is proving to be a thorny patch for the Catalans once again, and it's all set up nicely for the second half. Stay tuned.
That's it for the first half.
That was a great chance for Sociedad to retake the lead right on the stroke of half time, and it's really an opportunity that they should have taken. The half is now winding down and it appears that both teams will settle for the 1-1, at least until the second half.
Two chances in two minutes for Vela. The first was a snap shot from a tight angle that sails over the crossbar but the second was MUCH closer, as he profits from a Pique calamity to get into shooting position just inside the area, but he again cannot find the target!
Bartra becomes the next player in the book, coming in clumsily on Canales and immediately drawing the ire of the Barca fans and players - and the attention of the referee, who takes his name immediately.
Yellow Card Bartra
Despite all the game time missed with recurring thigh injuries this season, Messi has racked up 26 goals for the campaign. That strike was also his 229th in his Liga career, moving him past Raul's tally and into third place all time.
Goal Lionel Messi
A typically outstanding finish from Messi, who wipes out Sociedad's advantage almost instantly! From the top of the box, he picks his spot perfectly, and plants his finish into the bottom corner.
THAT'S HOW! BARCELONA ARE LEVEL!
Replays show that Elustondo's header may have taken the slightest of nicks off of Alex Song before nestling into the back of the net. Still, hard to deny Sociedad that opener, the question is, how will Barca respond?
Own Goal Alex Song
Well you can't say that it wasn't on the cards, and it's a deserved opener for the home side! Canales whips in a great ball that Elustondo can't help but attack with a header, and it flies home via a touch off Song!
SOCIEDAD BREAK THE DEADLOCK!
Sociedad have another shooting chance and it's Vela again at the end of it. This time he gets it on target and does test Valdes, but the Barca stopper reacts well to make a smart stop low down. Still, Barca are on the ropes...
Vela accepts a square ball from Griezmann and shifts into shooting space at the top of the box, but he snatches at his attempt, flashing the ball well over the crossbar in the end. Still, the home side have created the better openings so far, even though they've been half chances at best.
Angel becomes the second player to get his name taken, after he went in hard on Iniesta. He was one of those most unhappy with the Griezmann disallowed goal moments ago, so he was probably letting off some frustration with that illegal challenge.
Busquets was booked for that tackle, and Sociedad are incensed that the referee refused to play advantage on that occasion. With Griezmann scoring after the whistle, it shows that it may well have been more beneficial for the referee to allow play on, and book Busquets later. Aren't they supposed to look out for things like that?
Yellow Card José Ángel
Now Sociedad attempt to hit back at the other end with a chance of their own, and Griezmann does manage to put the ball into the back of the net, but the flag is up for an infraction. Replays show that Busquets bundled over Zurutuza before the 'goal', and the play is chalked off.
Yellow Card Busquets
The Brazilian has changed his boots, but i don't think that his footwear looked like the source of the problem. Also, tonight's game is the fourth time that Sergio Busquets and Alex Song have started together.
Lovely combination play in the attacking third from Iniesta and Pedro sees them carve Sociedad apart with a series of one touch passes. The former finally lays the ball off to the latter at the top of the box, but his curled attempt at a finish flashes the wrong side of the post.
Valdes has already claimed a few high balls comfortably, and reacts well to pluck a Canales delivery out of the air. Fabregas may yet be needed here, because Neymar is clearly not pain-free, with a few conspicuous grimaces and ginger movement in general.
Haven't seen much from Lionel Messi so far, with the defensive diligence from Sociedad forcing the Argentine to drop almost into the midfield line in a bid to get involved in the game. Neymar's been the most advanced player for the Catalans so far.
The game continues with Neymar back on his feet and in the game, but the sight of Fabregas going through a warmup on the sidelines suggests that it may not have been the attempt to play for the free kick that Sociedad would have you believe.
Neymar has taken a bit of a knock there after appearing to clash wit Gonzalez. Sociedad are not impresses with his antics, and are gesticulating to the referee that the Brazilian made the most of the contact. Still, he needs some treatment.
Busquets is certainly occupying a more advanced role than normal, with Alex Song the man sitting deepest just inf front of the defence. In fact, it's the Catalan midfielder's first game as a more offensive minded midfielder since a cup clash vs Mallorca in March 2009 (via @barcastuff).
Sociedad continue to be the side forcing their play on their opponents, despite Barca statistically seeing more of the ball in the opening exchanges. There's not been a whole lot of goalmouth action though, as clear cut openings are proving hard to come by.
Pique commits a clumsy foul on Griezmann, and the French forward will take responsibility of the set piece himself. It's a promising position, but he rather disappoints observers with an easily-read effort that Valdes has no problem smothering into his chest with bot hands.
A real bright tempo developing to this game, and it's barely five minutes old. Both sides are clearly aware of what's at stake - Barca a place at the top of the table, and Sociedad a chance to move to within a single point of that coveted fourth and final Champions league place.
Sociedad have certainly made a positive start to this contest, as their play in the opposition half has forced Barca to do some defending more than once. However, despite those bright moments, the visitors have still managed to control the majority of the ball.
The match is underway via Sociedad's kick off.
Barca are on a high of course after beating Manchester City 2-0 at the Etihad midweek, which all but puts them into the quarter finals of the Champions League. They've not won at this stadium in their last seven visits though, and with the hosts four points off fourth place, expect plenty of fireworks.
Sociedad have won seven of their 11 games at the Anoeta this campaign, and beat the Catalan giants at this very stadium by a 3-2 scoreline last season. However, that was their only win in their last five tries against Barca, who have won three and drawn the other one.
Tata Martino brings Neymar back into his starting XI, but makes a host of changes, placing Cesc Fabregas, Dani Alves, Javier Mascherano, Alexis Sanchez and Xavi to the bench. The likes of Alex Song and Martin Montoya get a run out in the starting lineup.
Jagoba Arraste brings in Gorka Elustondo and Markel Bergara to man the middle, with Sergio Canales playing ahead of the pair in an advanced playmaking role. Carlos Vela and Antoine Griezmann will do the heavy lifting up front as expected.
BARCELONA XI: Valdes, Montoya, Piqué, Bartra, Adiano, Busquets, Song, Iniesta; Pedro, Messi, Neymar.
REAL SOCIEDAD XI: C. Bravo, Mikel, Zaldua, Inigo, Ángel, Bergara, Elustondo, Zurutuza, Griezmann, Canales, Vela.
Let's take a look at our teams.
With Real Madrid laying down a marker with a professional 3-0 win over Elche earlier in the day, the onus is on the Catalan giants to get three points here that will take them back to the Liga summit.
Hello, and welcome to an enticing La Liga encounter, as Real Sociedad host Barcelona at the Anoeta. I'm Keeghann Sinanan, your guide for all the action.
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