Barcelona picked up all three points at Reale Arena behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s 11th minute goal, but it came at a heavy price.
The Blaugrana defense was torn to shreds in the process, with the entire back line of Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Dani Alves, and Ronald Araujo all picking up injuries throughout the 90 minutes. Alba was the only one who made it the full 90 minutes, with the other three withdrawn at various points of the second half. Aubameyang also may have picked up an injury problem late, while substitute defender Clement Lenglet took a big hit in the final minutes but managed to see out the game.
The three points will be valuable as Barcelona looks to tighten its grip on a Champions League place, but the loss of numerous defenders will leave the team vulnerable as the season comes to a close. Real Sociedad was the better side through much of the second half, and only poor finishing let the hosts down against a hobbled Barcelona back line.
Pique’s 80 minutes were utterly heroic, as the Barcelona legend pushed for the clean sheet despite picking up his injury before halftime. For La Real, both strikers Alexander Isak and Alexander Sorloth missed critical chances, and while the latter was dangerous throughout the match, neither could find the back of the net as season-long wastefulness persisted.
MORE: Barcelona squad plans: Who will be out of contract, who should stay and who should Xavi sell in 2022?
Sporting News will be following the match live and providing score updates, commentary and highlights as they happen.
Real Sociedad vs. Barcelona final score, commentary
11th min — FCB — Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
FULL-TIME: Real Sociedad 0-1 Barcelona
It’s a truly heroic performance from the hobbled and patchwork Barcelona back line, and Aubameyang’s 11th minute goal was enough to see Barcelona through to three points. The victory is critical for Barcelona’s Champions League hopes, but it comes at a high cost.
Real Sociedad will rue its missed opportunities amidst a match of few chances for either side. Alexander Sorloth was dangerous throughout, but he and strike partner Alexander Isak missed the biggest opportunities. It’s been a problem all year long, and cost La Real today.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen wins Man of the Match for his clean sheet, but Pique and the injured defenders deserve credit for putting their bodies on the line.
— Toni Juanmartí (@tjuanmarti) April 21, 2022
90+3 min: There are 10 minutes of stoppage time in this one, and it’s certainly not over yet as the hosts pour on the pressure. Lenglet has to be careful, as La Real players are screaming for a penalty as the Frenchman held Alexander Sorloth in the penalty area, but no call was made. We play on.
86th min: As if Barcelona needed more, Clement Lenglet is absolutely pulverized by Alexander Isak, and is down receiving treatment. The Frenchman went to deliver a cross and was body checked by the opposing striker. Isak is withdrawn moments later for Portu, while Ander Martin comes on for Januzaj.
82nd min: Gerard Pique is finally on empty, and is withdrawn for Clement Lenglet. A heroic performance by the Catalan legend. Aubameyang is replaced by Luuk de Jong.
Real Sociedad made its first two changes moments earlier, with Rafinha and Jose Zaldua off for Jon Guridi and Antoni Gorosabel.
Gerard Piqué da la razón a Xavi y demuestra que se mueve como nadie en arenas movedizas. Partido de gran personalidad y jerarquía de un líder, imprescindible para su equipo #RealSociedadBarca
— Alberto Pérez 🇺🇦 (@albertoperezdoc) April 21, 2022
74th min: CHANCE, Barcelona! How has Gavi missed that?? A perfect later cross by Ferran Torres reaches the Barcelona midfielder wide open on the penalty spot, but he skies the chance. He met it with his preferred left foot, which was awkward as the delivery came from his left. He should have taken it with his right. Will Barcelona regret that?
70th min: CHANCE, Real Sociedad! It’s just not La Real’s day in front of net. Another great delivery into the box is just inches out of reach of a sliding Rafinha, and ter Stegen clearly though the would find the back of the net, because the German wasn’t ready for the ball to reach him, subsequently fumbling it, but Barcelona clears.
66th min: Dest comes on for Alves, which definitely wasn’t the planned substitution, but the 38-year-old is now forced off. What a mess this is turning into for Barcelona.
The whole of Barcelona’s back four have suffered an injury within 20 minutes 💀 pic.twitter.com/9aRIkH6HYw
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) April 21, 2022
64th min: Ousmane Dembele, who’s been invisible this half, has what feels like his first touch, but his feed into the middle is poor. Sergino Dest is readying on the touchline, and he comes in
Aubameyang is the latest Barcelona player to crop up with an injury, as he’s struggling from a challenge minutes prior. Then Dani Alves goes down after being kicked. It’s more notable to mention which Barcelona players on the field aren’t injured than which ones are.
58th min: Real Sociedad is pouring on the pressure against a hobbled Barcelona defense. Again it’s Sorloth who makes a great run off the back shoulder of Busquets, but his effort is saved low from a very tight angle by ter Stegen. It just clips the German’s back heel as he goes to cover his near post.
Real Sociedad has suffered from poor finishing all season long.
La Real Sociedad tiene a sus dos delanteros entre los 5 jugadores con peor diferencia entre xG y goles anotados (sin contar penaltis) que hayan marcado un tanto en LaLiga 21/22:
Isak (2º, 3 goles, 7.29xG, -4.29)
Sørloth (5º, 2 goles, 4.82xG, -2.82).
— Àlex de Llano (@AlexDeLlano) April 21, 2022
56th min: Play is restarted but it doesn’t take long for Pique to find himself on the turf again, slow to get up. Barcelona players injured all along the back line. This could have repercussions for the remainder of the season. Pique remains on for now, as does Jordi Alba, but both are clearly struggling.
The only Barvelona defender not falling injured is the one that’s two weeks off his 39th birthday… 🤷♂️😂
— Sid Lowe (@sidlowe) April 21, 2022
53rd min: There is a real problem now for Barcelona as Pique’s center-back partner Ronald Araujo is injured. It takes forever to get the ball out of play to make the change as Real Sociedad looked to take advantage. Eric Garcia is being readied on the touchline and will come in.
Now, Jordi Alba also looks to be having an issue with his groin. Visiting players dropping like flies at Reale Arena.
49th min: There’s a delay in the match as Real Sociedad fans start throwing things at Pique who’s waiting to take the goal kick. The referee stops the match and discusses things with the officials on the touchline. The delay is about two minutes before play resumes.
47th min: CHANCE, Real Sociedad! Alexander Sorloth with the double miss of the month!! The first was tough for the Swede to control in the penalty area and couldn’t get a shot off, but the second was inexcusable. On a fabulous feed Adnan Januzaj on the left, Sorloth finds himself ALL ALONE at the far post for a point-blank finish, and he completely whiffs, barely even making contact.
That’s a horrific miss on a chance to level the match. A wake-up call for the Barcelona defense which attempted a really poor offside trap.
He should prob have scored that tho
— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) April 21, 2022
46th min: The second half is under way. No changes for either side, which means Pique is still out there and will look to gut out the rest of the match.
HALF-TIME: Real Sociedad 0-1 Barcleona
Aubameyang’s early goal the difference so far in a match that had precious few chances through the opening 45 minutes.
The hosts have had a few moments, but other than Isak’s miss late, they were all speculative. Barcelona controlled much of the play, and had the better chances as well. It’s incredibly important for both sides to get something out of this one. It will be interesting to see if Gerard Pique comes out to play the second half after struggling to finish the opening stage.
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) April 21, 2022
43rd min: CHANCE, Real Sociedad! Sorloth does extremely well to clown Araujo and spring Alexander Isak, but the La Real frontman whiffs, sending his shot wide across the face of goal. It would have been tough to beat a well-positioned ter Stegen, but nevertheless it’s a poor finish not to hit the target.
40th min: CHANCE, Barcelona! Aubameyang saw Torres let fly and thought “why not me?” Frenkie de Jong again is pushing the attack, and Aubameyang does the same as Torres but from the opposite angle. His effort goes just wide as well, also very close.
39th min: CHANCE, Barcelona! Ferran Torres lets loose from a tough position, aiming for the top-right corner, and it’s not far off at all, as Remiro gives it a dive but it goes just wide right.
Pique looks to be gutting it out for now. He signaled to the bench multiple times for a sub, but is now trying to push through it. He and the Barcelona defense have had a lot of work to do the last 15 minutes or so.
33rd min: The hosts turn up the intensity. First, a ball into the area sees ter Stegen make a desperate punch over top Alexander Sorloth. Then moments later Ronald Araujo, fresh off a yellow card suspension, gets the first caution of the game.
Now Pique commits a foul, and Sorloth meets the free-kick with his head at the back post, but ter Stegen has it covered well. Pique could be injured here, the 37-year-old is grabbing at his groin and calling for a substitution. He’s only just today back from a three-game layoff with a groin injury.
31st min: Frenkie de Jong has been fantastic through the opening half-hour of this match. He goes for goal with a low curler hoping to pass it into the back of the net, but it’s just wide right. Then he charges through midfield and feeds Dembele whose shot is blocked.
28th min: The game has devolved somewhat since the opening goal, but the Real Sociedad fans are still incredibly loud. There’s a man on the microphone who is a constant auditory presence, and the supporters are following his lead. It’s quite the atmosphere.
It’s not having much of an effect on the team, though.
Real Sociedad are making me think there must be a negative correlation between how loud your capo is and how many goals the team scores.
— Alex Brotherton (@alex_brotherton) April 21, 2022
22nd min: Real Sociedad pressing absurdly high, and it earns a throw deep in Barcelona territory after Dani Alves is swarmed on the touchline. They almost got to ter Stegen in possession too. It doesn’t come to anything, but the pressing is giving Barcelona problems in certain moments.
16th min: A beautiful cutback by Dani Alves down the right comes to Ferran Torres unmarked near the top of the penalty area, but his shot is blasted to the moon. Barcelona looks simplistic yet dangerous up front.
11th min: GOAL! Barcelona! Well, it appeared for a moment that Barcelona was unlucky, with Ousmane Dembele pinging a tight-angled shot off the post, but La Real couldn’t clear it and Aubameyang heads the ball into the back of the net. There’s a VAR check to make sure that Aubameyang was onside, which he was as Ferran Torres on the feed was ahead of Aubameyang. Goal stands, Barcelona leads.
Aubameyang finishes off Ferran Torres’ cheeky assist 🤝 pic.twitter.com/TyXNuNweyd
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) April 21, 2022
10th min: First action for Remiro who comes charging off his line to smother a Barcelona chance. Sergio Busquets with a beautiful through-ball to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but Remiro gets there first.
11 – #RealSociedad 🔵⚪️ are winless in their last 11 matches against @FCBarcelona 🔵🔴 in @LaLigaEN (D2 L9), their worst winless run against the Blaugrana in the competition since October 1960 (GP17 D3 L14). Step. pic.twitter.com/cS0ofVyJkU
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) April 21, 2022
7th min: Frenkie de Jong takes aim for the first shot of the match, with his weaker left foot from well outside the top of the penalty area. It’s scuffed low and wide, no threat to Alex Remiro’s goal.
4th min: Good early pressure from the home side, as the home fans applaud loudly every time La Real regain possession. Barcelona soaking up the pressure well, no real chances so far created by the hosts.
1st min: The match is under way! A bit of a late start, but the match is now under way.
There is a bit of a delay to kickoff with former Real Sociedad player David Zurutuza giving a speech on the field
16 mins to kick: Barcelona have won 6-1 on its last visit to Reale Arena, and have won five of the last six meetings at this venue across all competitions.
And yet, widen the scope a bit, and this has been a House of Horrors for Barcelona in the past. From 2011 to 2017, the club failed to win a single match across an eight-game stretch, a run which Xavi was a part of for six of the games. He’ll remember this arena well, but probably not fondly.
Al Barcelona se la hace difícil ganar en el Reale Arena. 👀
En 74 partidos jugados ahí contra la Real Sociedad, solo ha ganado 20. 😱
Pero en su última visita, el Barça gano 6⃣ – 1⃣
— bet365 MX (@bet365mx) April 21, 2022
35 mins to kick: Barcelona’s unbeaten run came to an end last time out. Can La Real capitalize?
15 – #Barcelona 🔵🔴 have ended their best unbeaten run under Xavi Hernández (GP15 W11 D4). The team from the Top 5 European Leagues with the current best unbeaten run are AC Milan (GP12 – W6 D6). Eliminated. #UEL pic.twitter.com/2XuJLmdQAh
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) April 14, 2022
60 mins to kick: La Real also has its lineup in, and there are three Alex’s starting! Full lineups below.
80 mins to kick: Barcelona lineup is in a few minutes early, and it’s exactly as expected, with both Gerard Pique and Julian Araujo returning to the heart of defense. American international Sergino Dest also makes way for Dani Alves who was rested last time out.
100 mins to kick: Goodness, the Barcelona kit man works fast! 😉
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) April 21, 2022
1:30 p.m. ET / 7:30 p.m. local: Barcelona channeling days of yore in a key league matchup today on the road.
🔥 𝗧𝗢𝗣 𝟱 🔥
Our best goals 🆚 Real Sociedad pic.twitter.com/EvP0Dr678K
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) April 21, 2022
Real Sociedad vs. Barcelona lineups
The loss of Mikel Oyarzabal to an ACL tear has been as devastating to the Real Sociedad attack as expected. The team’s leader in expected goals (xG) and expected assists (xA) went down in mid-March, and they have scored just three goals in the ensuing four matches. He sadly misses the chance to play today on his birthday. To make matters worse, David Silva is suspended for the match due to his very late sending-off against Real Betis.
It tracks that Adnan Januzaj returns to the starting lineup with all the attacking injuries, despite only playing around 30 minutes combined over the last three matches. Portu was also a choice to enter the lineup, but the misfiring Alexander Sorloth retains his place.
Nacho Monreal and Carlos Fernandez have missed the entire season with serious knee injuries, and young Ander Barrenetxea has been missing since early January with a muscle tear.
Real Sociedad projected starting lineup (4-4-2 diamond): Remiro (GK) — Rico, Le Normand, Zubeldia, Zaluda – Rafinha, Merino, Zubimendi, Januzaj – Isak, Sorloth.
Real Sociedad subs (11): Ryan (GK), Djouhara, Guevara, Martin, Illarramendi, Guridi, Munoz, Gorosabel, Elustondo, Pacheco, Ayesa, Portu.
Real Sociedad are not the only team with a long list of missing players. Barcelona suffered a crucial loss as Pedri will miss the rest of the season with a hamstring injury, and both Samuel Umtiti and Sergi Roberto are not expected to feature just yet despite returning to training.
There are some reinforcements, however. Sergino Dest makes way for Dani Alves who was rested against Cadiz, while Ronald Araujo returns after missing the loss to Cadiz due to yellow card suspension. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could not rescue Barcelona last time out off the bench, is back to a starting role in place of Memphis Depay.
The status of Gerard Pique was unclear after missing last match with a groin problem, but he does indeed return to his role at the heart of defence alongside Araujo.
Barcelona starting lineup (4-3-3): Ter Stegen (GK) — Alba, Araujo, Pique, Alves — F. de Jong, Busquets, Gavi – Aubameyang, Torres, Dembele.
Barcelona subs (11): Neto (GK), Carevic, Dest, Mingueza, Garcia, Lenglet, Puig, Gonzalez, Depay, Braithwaite, L. de Jong, Traore.
MORE: Who stays and who goes at Man United?
How to watch Real Sociedad vs. Barcelona
|Thursday, Apr. 21
|Thursday, Apr. 21
|Thursday, Apr. 21
|Friday, Apr. 22
|La Liga TV
|beIN Sports 2
In the United States, the Real Sociedad vs. Barcelona match is exclusively available on the ESPN+ streaming platform.
In the UK, the match will be shown on La Liga TV and streamed on Amazon Prime.
In Canada, the match will be broadcast by TSN on both television and streaming.
In Australia, the match will be broadcast by beIN Sports on both television and streaming.
Real Sociedad vs. Barcelona betting lines, picks & prediction
Odds via DraftKings (USA) & Sports Interaction (Canada)
The oddsmakers think there will be goals in this game, but there won’t, at least not from Real Sociedad’s end.
Since Mikel Oyarzabal — the team’s xG and xA leader — went down with a torn ACL, the team’s attack has suffered greatly. The remaining goalscorers Alexander Isak and Alexander Sorloth are both poor finishers, and don’t get many chances anyways. Sorloth in particular has been a black hole, with just two goals in over 1,200 minutes on 4.94 xG.
Barcelona’s defence took a slight step back against Cadiz, but both Pique and Araujo missed that match and should be back. Through February and March, Barcelona went seven straight league matches conceding under 1.0 xG, and the win over Levante on April 10 was the first time all season they conceded over 2.0 xG in league play.
It’s unclear how the Barcelona progression will recover without Pedri, but the defence will be fine, and jumping on the plus odds for a Barcelona clean sheet is a solid bet. If you think Barca will win, you can get them to win to zero at +250 but the safer play is keeping a clean sheet regardless of result.
Pick: Both teams NOT to score (+120 on DraftKings)
Prediction: Real Sociedad 0-1 Barcelona
|Real Sociedad Win
|Over / Under
|-115 / -105
|-118 / -108
|-125 / -110
to score Y / N
|-160 / +120
|-159 / +101
|-165 / +120
|Real Sociedad +0.5
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism