Talking points ahead of Real Sociedad v FC Barcelona

Barça won 4-0 when the sides met at the Camp Nou earlier this season / FCB
Suspensions and injuries will affect both sides in a fixture where the home side, now managed by former FCB man Eusebio, have had the upper hand in recent years

There’s has been plenty to talk about going into the Saturday 8.30pm CET kick-off at Real Sociedad. We take a look at some of the main topics being discussed on the streets of Barcelona and San Sebastian.

Crisis? What crisis?

There’s strange sense of doom going into this fixture, where Luis Enrique will be looking to avoid going for three league games without a win for the first time since he became first team manager.

Yet Barça are six points clear at the top of the league with just seven games to go. Losing at home to Real Madrid last week was a blow, but that was the first time the team had lost for an unprecedented 39 games, so things are hardly that bad!

Negative record at Anoeta

Much of the concern is due to Barça’s surprisingly poor record away to Real Sociedad, where they have not won since 2007 and not at all since the Basques won promotion back to the First Division in 2010. And with just two goals from his last six trips, Anoeta is not the happiest of hunting grounds for Leo Messi either.

Before the 8.30pm CET kick-off, Real Madrid will have hosted Eibar and Atlético will have just finished their game at Espanyol. If Barça’s title rivals win those games, then that will increase the pressure to dispel the Anoeta ‘curse.’

Suárez out

Barça will have to do that without one of the most in-form players in the squad, Luis Suárez. The Uruguayan, who netted both goals in the 2-1 defeat of Atlético midweek and is the second highest scorer in a La Liga with 26 goals, is suspended for this one.

At his Friday press conference, Luis Enrique spoke very highly of a possible replacement, Munir El Haddadi, who already stood in for a suspended Suárez in January’s Copa del Rey game with Espanyol. And he did so very nicely by scoring both goals in a 2-0 win.

Real trouble

But the Barça manager’s counterpart, Eusebio Sacristán, probably has more thinking to do on Saturday. Centre back Iñigo Martínez is an absolutely essential component of his team who has been confirmed as absent through injury.

Six other members of the Real squad are unfit, and Markel and Yuri are both suspended to make matters worse for a team that may have won away to Sevilla last week, but had gone for five games without a win before that.

Familiar face

He may have selection concerns, but if there is one manager in La Liga who understands what Barça is all about then that man is Eusebio. Not only did he make 203 appearances for FCB in the Dream Team era from 1988 to 1995, but he also managed Barça B for three and a half seasons, leading the reserves to third place in the Second Division in 2014.

Rafinha, Munir, Jordi Masip, Marc Bartra, Sandro Ramírez and Sergi Roberto all played under the current Real Sociedad manager.