This fixture is the most eye-catching of all in LaLiga this weekend and will be shown live on ITV4 in the UK, coming in the Sunday night 9:00 pm kick-off slot. It sees Xavi take his Barcelona side travel to the Basque Country to face Real Sociedad in San Sebastián.
Real Sociedad got their season off to the perfect start with a 1-0 win over Cádiz on the road last weekend and now welcome a Barcelona side who will be looking for their first win of the campaign.
Real Sociedad v Barcelona Bet Builder Tips
Under 2.5 Goals
Matches at the Reale Arena last season averaged an incredible 1.3 goals per game, the lowest of any stadium across Europe’s top five leagues. Real Sociedad only scored 16 goals in 19 home fixtures, while conceding even fewer at nine.
A whopping 84% of Real Sociedad’s home matches ended with under 2.5 goals, the highest stat across LaLiga and any major European league. In part that is because La Real were the highest underperformers of xG in any of Europe’s top five leagues last season with a 16.09 underperformance, and they already lead LaLiga this season with a 1.64 underperformance in matchday one, while Barcelona themselves sit second with a 1.37 underperformance in their own debut fixture.
Barcelona come into this tie off the back of a blank against Rayo Vallecano at the Spotify Camp Nou. Their new-look attack saw Raphinha and Robert Lewandowski given debuts but they couldn’t quite click to make the desired impact. Only 33% of Raphinha’s crosses were completed, and he could expect that rate to drop even further up against the likes of Robin LeNormand and Aritz Elustondo in the Real Sociedad defence given that they ranked seventh and eighth for aerial duels won in LaLiga last season. That’s particularly concerning for Barça given that crosses are such a huge part of their game plan, having been the team to deliver the most crosses in LaLiga last season with 15.2 crosses per 90 minutes.
Between the two teams, they scored a combined one goal from 4.01 xG last weekend, without conceding a goal between them. Everything points towards this game being a low-scoring affair with teams failing to take the chances that fall their way.
Robert Lewandowski to have 2+ Shots on Target
If there is to be a man who will threaten the Real Sociedad goal, it’s Robert Lewandowski. It wasn’t the dream debut for Robert Lewandowski during Barça’s goalless draw with Rayo Vallecano last weekend, but he has a good chance of scoring his first competitive goal for the club this Sunday. Against Rayo, he was suffocated by defenders, but Real Sociedad won’t play with nearly as many bodies in their own box.
Last season, La Real were ranked sixth in the division for the percentage of opposition touches that took place in their own penalty box, with 12%, meaning a lot of Barcelona’s possession should take place inside the danger zone and, as the focal point of that attack, Lewandowski should see of a lot of the ball.
Even in those more claustrophobic settings he faced against Rayo Vallecano last weekend, he still got off 1 shot on target, 3 shots off target and 1 blocked shot, in addition to scoring a delightful goal that didn’t count on the stats sheets because of an offside that he didn’t know about at the time.
He produced 2.35 shots on target per game in the Bundesliga last season, which was his second-best season ever in that regard, and he’ll surely consistently hit those numbers in LaLiga too as he develops greater chemistry with his new teammates.
In Sunday’s game, then, we expect even higher involvement from Lewandowski compared to last week, when he was still very active even if he didn’t get a goal. Even though he’s going up against one of the division’s top goalkeepers in Álex Remiro, the Polish striker should at least test the shot-stopper and do some on multiple occasions.
Barcelona Double Chance
Real Sociedad have not beaten Barcelona in any of their last 15 meetings, in a run dating back to April 2016. Across that run, Barcelona have won 13 times while there have been two draws. Coach Imanol Alguacil has overseen nine of those 15 matches, averaging 0.11 points per match.
But this also extends beyond just Barcelona. Imanol Alguacil’s team have not beaten any of LaLiga’s top four since September 2019. Real Sociedad struggle to handle the balance of remaining defensively solid while providing sufficient support in attack and Alexander Isak is often caught out looking isolated in attack. That goes some way to explain why the talisman has averaged only 0.83 shots on target per game against Barcelona in his career.
We’ve already outlined why we expect this game to be a low-scoring one, but Barcelona should have it in them to come out on top. While they did so against Rayo Vallecano, that was the only time that Barça have only underperformed xG by more than one in any of their last 12 matches, a period in which they have averaged 1.92 xG per 90.
Sergio Busquets will be suspended for this tie but Frenkie de Jong is a more than capable replacement, and Xavi is hoping to have Jules Koundé available though he remains unregistered in the lead up to kick-off. Other than those two absentees, Xavi has a fully fit squad available to him.
Barça’s impressive track record against La Real, and their desire to prove a point after a disappointing start to the season last weekend, mean that they should have enough to edge it if they can break the deadlock in San Sebastián.
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How to watch Real Sociedad v Barcelona in the La Liga?
📅 When is Real Sociedad v Barcelona? / Sunday, 21st August 2022, 21:00
🏟 Where is Real Sociedad v Barcelona? / Reale Area (San Sebastian)
📺 What TV channel is Real Sociedad v Barcelona on? / ITV 4