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August 19, 2012 8:00 PM BST
Camp Nou — Barcelona
Referee:‬ José González‎
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16′ Messi
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84′ David Villa

Barcelona - Real Sociedad Preview: Catalan giants plot return to La Liga summit as Vilanova era begins

All eyes will be on the new Blaugrana boss as he oversees his first competitive game from the Camp Nou dugout after taking over from Pep Guardiola in the summer

By Karthick Arvinth

FC Barcelona Team
FC Barcelona Team


Alves, Pique, Puyol, Alba
Fabregas, Busquets, Iniesta
Fabregas, Messi, Sanchez

Estrada, Gonzalez, I. Martinez, Angel
Illarramendi, Elustondo
Castro, Zurutuza, Griezmann

Barcelona summer signing Jordi Alba is in line for his league debut against Real Sociedad on Sunday.

The former Valencia player is the only major arrival at Camp Nou so far, although a deal for Arsenal midfielder Alex Song is expected to be finalised imminently.

David Villa is unlikely to be involved in the fixture as he continues to build up match fitness, while Thiago Alcantara (tibia) has recovered from injury.

Real Sociedad look set to hand a competitive debut to defender Jose Angel, who was signed on a season-long loan from Italian giants Roma.

Another summer arrival, Chori Castro from Mallorca, could get the nod in attack alongside Carlos Vela and Antoine Griezmann.

  • Barcelona have won six of their last eight head-to-head meetings with Real Sociedad (W6, D1, L1).
  • The Catalan side are bidding for a fourth consecutive winning start to their league campaign after opening victories over Malaga (2011-12), Racing Santander (2010-11) and Sporting Gijon (2009-10) respectively.
  • Lionel Messi (pictured right) was Barcelona's top scorer in pre-season with five goals.
  • Real Sociedad have lost on their last 14 trips to Camp Nou.
  • The Basque outfit won just three of their 19 away games in the Primera Division last season.
  • Sociedad's last victory over Barcelona was a 2-1 home win in April 2011.

Field Report
Reader's Predictions
Top 3 Predictions
Head to Head
Spain - Primera Division ‎(LIGA)‎ Feb 22, 2014 Real Sociedad 3 - FC Barcelona 1
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Spain - Copa del Rey ‎(ESPC)‎ Feb 12, 2014 Real Sociedad 1 - FC Barcelona 1
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Spain - Copa del Rey ‎(ESPC)‎ Feb 5, 2014 FC Barcelona 2 - Real Sociedad 0
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Spain - Primera Division ‎(LIGA)‎ Sep 24, 2013 FC Barcelona 4 - Real Sociedad 1
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Spain - Primera Division ‎(LIGA)‎ Jan 19, 2013 Real Sociedad 3 - FC Barcelona 2
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Last Five Matches
Team News
Available Squads
1Víctor ValdésGoalkeeper
22Daniel AlvesDefender
5Carles PuyolDefender
18Jordi AlbaDefender
4Cesc FàbregasMidfielder
14Javier MascheranoMidfielder
13José Pinto ColoradoGoalkeeper
8Andrés Iniesta LujánMidfielder
24Sergi RobertoMidfielder
9David VillaStriker
9Alexis SánchezStriker
1Claudio BravoGoalkeeper
15Jon AnsoteguiDefender
22Dani EstradaMidfielder
24Alberto De la Bella Defender
2Carlos Martínez DíezDefender
3Mikel González MartínezDefender
4Gorka Gorka Elustondo UrkiolaMidfielder
5Markel BergaraMidfielder
24Asier IllarramendiMidfielder
10Xabi PrietoMidfielder
18Chory CastroMidfielder
7Antoine GriezmannStriker
20José ÁngelDefender
14Rubén PardoMidfielder
23Javier RosMidfielder
11Carlos VelaStriker
9Imanol AgirretxeStriker
Players to Watch
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 10
Games Goals YC RC
26 25 1 0
The Argentine struck a remarkable 73 goals in all competitions last term, shattering Gerd Muller's European goalscoring record of 67 set in 1972-73. While Tito Vilanova would no doubt be relying on Messi to lead from the front again this season, he would be hoping his other forwards can chip in with sizable contributions to take some of the pressure off the three-time Ballon d'Or winner's shoulders.
Antoine Griezmann
Antoine Griezmann
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 7
Games Goals YC RC
31 16 5 0
The France Under-21 international boasts plenty of pace and trickery on the wings, but he has also been used as an out-and-out striker to good effect by Philippe Montanier. Should Griezmann be deployed on the left wing - as seems likely - then Dani Alves could be in for a tough night.
Barcelona are about to usher in a new era with Vilanova and it will be interesting to see how he moulds his team through the season. Will he tinker with the striker-less tiki-taka system that has come to be known as the Barcelona way? Regardless, the Catalans have little to fear in Sociedad and should hit the ground running with a straightforward victory.
Editor's Prediction
Top Scorers
Player   Goals Penalties
C. Ronaldo C. Ronaldo
Real Madrid
28 6
Diego Costa Diego Costa
Atl. Madrid
27 5
Messi Messi
25 6
Karim Benzema Karim Benzema
Real Madrid
17 0
Alexis Sánchez Alexis Sánchez
17 0