LaLiga returns this weekend after a long International Break and Barcelona will be hoping to resume normal services when they visit the Anoeta Stadium on Saturday to face Real Sociedad. The Catalans are leading La Liga at the moment, having won all 3 of their games so far, scoring 12 goals and conceding 2.
Real Sociedad are currently 8th in La Liga, and they have won 1, lost 1 and drawn 1 so far, scoring and conceding 5 goals each. They went into the International Break on the back of a 1-2 away defeat at the hands of Eibar. Barcelona, on the other hand, are fresh from an 8-2 drubbing of Huesca in the last match, but there’s someone else who will be giving them lots of confidence ahead of the game.
Lionel Messi’s record against Real Sociedad is impeccable – he has scored 15 goals and registered 7 assists against them. The Argentinian has faced La Real 21 times in his career. This includes 17 times in the league, out of which Messi was in the starting XI 14 times and came on as a substitute 3 other times. He also faced them 4 times in the Copa del Rey. Messi has scored 13 goals against them in the league and has also provided 5 assists, all of them while starting. In the Copa del Rey, Messi has a further 2 goals and 2 assists to his name.
Last season, the away game at the Anoeta Stadium was an entertaining affair. Willian Jose gave Sociedad the lead as early as the 11th minute, converting from a brilliant cross from Prieto and in the 34th minute, the home side were 2-0 up, thanks to the goal from Juanmi, deflected in off Sergio Roberto.
Barcelona looked like they were in big trouble. However, the Catalans hit back 3 minutes later, as Suarez set up Paulinho to tap in and get a goal back. The first half ended with the score 2-1 to Sociedad. But Messi was not done yet. 5 minutes into the second half, the Argentinian, who was captaining Barcelona on the night, found a little space to run into and set up a perfectly weighted pass to Suarez to bring the scores level at 2-2.
Suarez then took advantage of some dreadful defensive mix-up from Sociedad and gave Barcelona the lead for the first time in the 71st minute and in the 85th minute, the stage was set for some Messi magic. Barcelona won a freekick almost 30 yards away from the goal and the maestro stepped up and readied himself. The Sociedad goalkeeper stayed rooted to the spot as the G.O.A.T. floated the perfect freekick into the top left corner. It was the moment the game was waiting for. Barcelona won the match 4-2.
From the 2010/11 season, Messi has scored against Real Sociedad in every season except 2014/15. Barcelona will be hoping that their talismanic captain continues the trend this weekend and the latest results certainly are indicative of it.
Messi has already scored 4 goals from 3 games in the league this season, with a further 2 assists as well. The last game against Huesca was another evidence of his pure genius. He started the game with a delicious sprinkle of magic and scored with his right foot. Next, he churned up the perfect ball for Rakitic to score. There was more magic to come.
Anticipating Coutinho’s brilliant ball, the Barcelona Skipper designed the perfect run from the halfway line, breaking the offside trap, leaving the defense behind and getting one on one with the keeper. There was only one outcome from there. 9 minutes from the game, Messi had the attention of the entire Huesca defense and yet drew a beautiful ball for Alba to score. The game ended Barcelona 8-2 Huesca. Messi ended the game with 2 goals and 2 assists, having distributed a million smiles around the world.
On Saturday, the world will be watching again, expectant and thirsty for more magic, as Lionel Messi takes Barcelona to the Anoeta Stadium. And history suggests that the Barcelona Skipper will certainly deliver, in style.