Luis Enrique: players responded to the challenge

Luis Enrique was active on the sideline throught saturday's clash with Real Sociead. / FCB
The FC Barcelona manager says his team heeded Friday’s caution that Real Sociedad would be tough opponents

FC Barcelona head coach Luis Enrique was glad he was right. After using Friday’s press conference to alert his players that Real Sociedad were no laggards, the Catalans appeared to heed that advice to the fullest, putting in a quintessential team effort to down the Txuriurdin by a score of 4–0 at Camp Nou.

In fact, knowing the win came against a team managed by Eusebio Sacristán, who made his name at FC Barcelona as a player and, later, an assistant coach, gave extra significance.

“It was Eusebio’s second game, against a team with outstanding football and an outstanding mentality,” Luis Enrique told reporters after the game. “In a game like today, if we had taken a ‘let’s see’ attitude, we would have had problems.”

“Real Sociedad made things tough for us, even if the scoreboard says otherwise,” he continued. “It was a difficult game,” he said.

Here are some of the other statements Luis Enrique made after the game:

On his team:

“The team is in great form. I always expect that the best is yet to come.”

On changes in the line-up:

“We have to be able to rotate players. We came off two high-intensity games with three-days rest, and we had to be able to spread out the minutes.”

On the Trident:

“They have this thing where if they don’t all score, it’s as if it’s incomplete.”

On the long haul:

“The players are very smart and they know there’s a long way to go. No team has ever won the league in November. We have some tough games coming and the Club World Cup in the immediate future. We’re going step by step.”

On adding Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal:

“We can tell that the month of January is coming. They’re two new pickups who know our model to perfection.”

Five keys to FC Barcelona's 4–0 victory over Real Sociedad

Dani Alves had two assists and Neymar had two goals on Saturday. / MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
Camp Nou as a fortress, Suárez, Neymar, the centre backs and Dani Alves are some of the keys to the big win over the Basque side

Camp Nou

Barça under Luis Enrique are yet to drop a point this season at home in the league. Their seven league games have seen them score 22 goals and concede just five. The last time they conceded at home was on 5 October against Eibar. A great part of their league success is down to this fact


The league’s top scorer remains in great form. His first goal was a great first time finish from a cross by Dani Alves. The second after the break makes his total in the league 14 so far this season.


The Uruguayan scores every time he puts his boots on. He now has 18 in all competitions. His confidence is sky high as can be seen by the goals he has scored this week against Roma and against Real Sociedad. Two volleys almost impossible to improve upon in terms of technique.


This was the Catalan defender’s 200th game in the league for Barça and the Argentine returned to the team after the injury picked up in the Bernabéu. The most common centre back partnership for Luis Enrique once again showed their experience and ability to lead from the back.

Dani Alves

The full back was once again unstoppable down the right hand side. The first two goals came after he had got to the by line yet again. Alves also created the first goal for Luis Suárez against Roma down the same flank. The Brazilian was replaced by his countryman Adriano after 61 minutes and received a standing ovation from the Camp Nou crowd.

FC Barcelona cruise to a 4–0 victory over Real Sociedad

Messi, Neymar & Suárez, unstoppable / MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
Neymar scores two, Suárez and Messi add one each, as the Trident continues its hot streak

Neymar Júnior scored a goal in each half, Luis Suárez scored once in between, and Lionel Messi joined the party late as FC Barcelona cruised to a 4–0 La Liga victory over Real Sociedad on Saturday afternoon at Camp Nou.

It was another scintillating performance by the Trident, FC Barcelona’s ruthlessly effective forward line, which, after getting all four goals on Saturday, has now scored 30 of the team’s 33 league goals so far this season, an astonishing 91 per cent share, just one of the panoply of staggering figures being put up by the big three this season.

Neymar and Suárez, one-two on the league goalscoring list, once again proved they are serious threats in the race for the Pichichi Trophy.

With the fans at Camp Nou hoping Messi would not be left off the score sheet, Barça’s number 10, making his third appearance after a two-month stint on the injury list, gave them their wish in the 87th minute, when he slotted in a pass from Neymar, giving the Catalans their final goal of the day.

Just prior to Messi’s goal, FC Barcelona goalkeeper Claudio Bravo made a superb close-range stop on Bruma in the 86th to preserve a third straight clean sheet.

In what was billed as a homecoming for former Barça player and assistant coach Eusebio Sacristán, his ex-team did the football equivalent of pulling the welcome-back mat out from underneath his feet. Sacristán, coaching just his second First Division game, was unable to solve the Barça juggernaut he knows so much about, proving that having a deep understanding of the Catalans’ style of play has little to do with being able to counter it on the field.

FC Barcelona opened the scoring in the 22nd minute, when Daniel Alves, working on the right wing, rolled a cross through the area to Neymar. The Brazilian striker — engaged in a foot race to the ball with Real Sociedad defender Gorka Elustondo — got there first, one timing from 6 metres into the upper right corner for a 1–0 lead.

It was the 13th league goal of the season and 15th overall for Neymar, who continues to lead the Pichichi race.

In the 42nd minute, Alves, still perched out on the right flank, was the catalyst once again. This time, however, Brazilian full back got his assist not by land, but by air, lobbing a beautifully arcing cross towards the far post. By the time the ball fell earthward, the only one in position to make a play was Suárez and, after some rapid-fire calculations of the ball’s speed and trajectory, the Uruguayan cocked his leg and pulled the trigger, firing a side volley low to the ground and into the back of the net for a 2–0 lead.

For Suárez, it was his 12th La Liga goal of the season — his team-leading 18th overall — and solidified his number two slot on the Pichichi list, while also bringing the gap with his line mate Neymar back to one goal.

Seven minutes after halftime, though, in the 52nd minute, Neymar made it 3–0, tapping in from close range after defender Jérémy Mathieu rolled cross from the left wing. Suárez had been waiting alongside Neymar as the cross came through, but with each player appearing ready to cede to the other, it was Neymar who stuck out his boot for the easy score, his 14th.

In the waning minutes Messi looked destined to be held scoreless, especially when he hit the crossbar in the 87th minute, eliciting a collective ‘ooh’ from the 74,020 who were eager to see him add to Barça’s tally. Then, a few seconds later, Neymar found Messi just steps from the goal line and the fans got their wish.

The victory for FC Barcelona gives them a provisional seven-point lead in the La Liga table over second-placed Atlético Madrid, who play on Saturday evening. The Catalans have now stretched their lead over archrivals Real Madrid to nine points, also provisionally.

Mascherano named in squad of 18 to face Real Sociedad

The team trains for the last time before the game on Friday / MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB
The Argentinian has fully recovered and comes in for Sergi Roberto, who misses the 4.00pm CET kick-off with a sprained ankle

Luis Enrique has revealed his squad of 18 players for Saturday’s 4.00pm CET kick-off against Real Sociedad at the Camp Nou. The biggest change with respect to the side that beat AS Roma 6-1 midweek is the return of Mascherano, who is back to full fitness after taking a knock at the Bernabéu and comes in for Sergi Roberto, who is out with a sprained ankle. Sandro is also back in the team after sitting out the Champions League game, but there is no place for Jordi Masip or the injured Douglas and Rafinha.

The full squad is as follows: Ter Stegen, Bravo, Piqué, Rakitic, Sergio, Dani Alves, Iniesta, Suárez, Messi, Neymar Jr, Mascherano, Bartra, Munir, Jordi Alba, Sandro, Adriano, Vermaelen and Mathieu.

Match Preview: FC Barcelona vs Real Sociedad

Messi, Suárez and Piqué celebrating against AS Roma / MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
The blaugranes take on the Basque side on Saturday at 4.00pm CET looking to round off a memorable week following wins over Real Madrid and AS Roma

Luis Enrique’s men will be aiming to round off in style a wonderful week which has seen the blaugranes put in two unforgettable displays of attacking football to defeat Real Madrid in the Santiago Bernabéu and AS Roma at Camp Nou. On Saturday at 4.00pm CET at home, Barça take on a Real Sociedad in the league who have recently appointed former blaugrana Eusebio Sacristán as coach. The blaugranes come into the game four points clear of second placed Atlético Madrid at the top of the table whilst the visitors are in 14th place on 12 points.

Team news

Luis Enrique’s side trained for the final time on Friday at the Ciutat Esportiva ahead of the game against the club from San Sebastián. Javier Mascherano should get the all clear to be included in the squad after missing the midweek victory over Roma at Camp Nou. The Argentinian was forced off in the first half of the win over Real Madrid in the Bernabéu due to injury but should return on Saturday. Sergi Roberto seems likely to miss out after being diagnosed with a bruised ankle following the 6-1 win in the Champions League alongside longer term injury victims Rafinha and Douglas. Luis Enrique will name his squad on the morning of the game.

Eusebio, on his first ever game against Barça as coach, has selection worries for the trip to Camp Nou. The former Barça player is without former blaugrana Oier Olazábal, striker Jonathas and midfielders Markel Bergara and David Zurutuza due to injury. Furthermore, the influential Asier Illarramendi, back at the club after an unhappy spell at Real Madrid, is missing due to suspension.

Coaches’ viewpoint

Luis Enrique spoke to the press on Friday in his traditional pre-game press conference at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper. The Barça boss was keen to keep the team’s excellent form going: “We hope to keep this run going as long as possible. We have the chance to add three key points to stay leaders and stay strong at home.” He also pointed out the new style of Saturday’s opponents under their new coach: “With Eusebio [as their coach] you can see they have a plan to carry out, and they are clear about creating pressure and about which players have to do it and how.”

Winner of two league titles and the European Cup amongst other honours as a Barça player, Eusebio also appeared in front of the media on Friday. The new Real Sociedad coach did not his admiration for his former club, saying “their greatness lies in their philosophy.” However, he also warned: “My players have the quality and ambition to surprise Barça.”

Form guide

Since losing away at Sevilla in the league back at the beginning of October, Luis Enrique’s side have won eight of nine matches in all competitions, only a draw away at Villanovense in the Copa del Rey blotting their copybook, They have scored 16 goals in their last four victories, putting four past Real Madrid away from home and six past AS Roma at Camp Nou in their last two games. The win against Rafa Benítez’s side at the Bernabéu means they are now four points clear of nearest challengers Atlético Madrid at the top of the table.

Real Sociedad’s run of four defeats in five matches prior to the recent international break was the final straw for the club and Scottish coach David Moyes was shown the door. Eusebio’s reign began with a promising 2-0 win at home to Sevilla last weekend to lift the Basques to 14th in the table, still however just two points above the relegation zone. The txuri urdin have won twice in the league away this season, beating Granada 3-0 and Levante 4-0 on the road.


FC Barcelona have won 17 straight home league meetings with the side from San Sebastián. The Basques have only ever won three encounters with the blaugranes at Camp Nou, the most recent coming in 1991 when two goals from John Aldridge and one from Dalian Atkinson handed la Real a 3-1 win. Last season second half goals from Neymar and Pedro gave Luis Enrique’s side all three points in a vital encounter at Camp Nou during the title run in. That win avenged a 1-0 defeat earlier in the campaign away at Anoeta.


No matter where you are in the world we have you covered. And remember, you can enjoy live commentary in English on Radio Barça. The link will appear at just before kick-off. Twitter users can follow @FCBarcelona for a live feed of all the action.

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