After its famous win on Wednesday evening, Pep Guardiola's side travels to the Basque Lands where it will attempt to take a step closer to the title
|Real Sociedad (4-2-3-1): Bravo; Martinez, Ansotegi, Demidov, Estrada; Rivas, Aranburu; Prieto, Zurutuza, Griezmann; Ifran
There has been little movement on the injury front for Zaragoza this week as it has not registered any fresh problems. Indeed, its squad could actually be in a stronger state than it was for last weekend’s derby loss against Athletic Bilbao as Joseba Llorente could return to action following a hernia problem.
The former Villarreal striker, even if he is passed fit, is unlikely to be risked from the outset and is liable to be restricted to a cameo role.
|Barcelona (4-3-3): Valdez; Alves, Mascherano, Milito, Montoya; Thiago, Busquets, Keita; Jeffren, Villa, Afellay
Given the state of play in the league, with Barca comfortably leading the table, Pep Guardiola may consider some squad rotation for Saturday’s difficult fixture in San Sebastian. Injuries to a number of players may prevent him from making the wholesale changes he might like, with Adriano, Maxwell, Eric Abidal and Bojan Krkic all missing. It would be a surprise if Andres Iniesta was to be risked.
After coming on to great effect in midweek, it is likely that Ibrahim Afellay will be given a significant chance to impress once more.
- After a positive start to the season, Real Sociedad finds itself being quickly sucked into the relegation battle after a poor run of four points from a possible 27.
- Their recent record against Barcelona is cause for concern as it has failed to win any of its last four home matches against the Catalans, losing two but drawing two.
- Sociedad’s last home win against the Camp Nou outfit came in 2002.
- No side in the Primera Division has lost more matches after going ahead this season than the Basques, who have achieved this unwanted feat six times.
- Barcelona in recent history has an excellent record against Sociedad, keeping eight clean sheets in a row against Saturday’s opponents.
- No team has ever managed to record nine successive shutouts against the same opponents in the history of Spain’s top flight.
- Pep Guardiola’s side may have beaten Real Madrid 2-0 away from home on Wednesday in the Champions League, but two of its last three league games on the road have ended all-square.
- Lionel Messi has had a direct hand in five of Barcelona’s last six league goals, scoring four and creating the other.
- Messi scored his 51st and 52nd goals of the season against los Blancos in midweek, improving the new benchmark for strikes in a solitary Spanish campaign.
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