FC Barcelona are coming off a nine match unbeaten streak in all competitions and after recent great performances in the league and in the UEFA Champions League, they will look to continue that fine form as they host Real Sociedad at the Camp Nou on Saturday afternoon.
The Blaugrana are coming off their 4-0 rout of Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu with the return of Lionel Messi to side, only as a substitute, it only seemed that it was probably better without him, although that wasn't the case. Goals from Neymar, Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta were able to seal the deal in El Clasico and make a six point gap between their bitter rivals with 30 points, with only Atletico Madrid sneaking in four points behind them.
Moving forward only four days later, they dismantled AS Roma at home in the Champions League 6-1, when Messi, Suarez, Gerard Pique and Adriano provided goals to beat the Italian side and current see them with 13 points, six points above Roma and Bayer Leverkusen and seven above BATE Borisov.
In team news, Messi is expected to start in his first league match ever since getting injured against Las Palmas back in September that saw him out of the game for almost two months. Sergi Roberto will be out for the match due to an ankle problem and Javier Mascherano will return to side. Pique will also be playing his 200th game for the side.
Statistics are in favor for the home side, Neymar has manage to score in every match against the side from San Sebastián and the Catalan side have won their last 14 home matches against Real Sociedad in all competitions.
Real Sociedad's form
The Txuriurdin are currently mid-table in La Liga in 14th place with 12 points, two points above the relegation zone and eight from the final European spot.
Eusebio Sacristán, who was the former Barca B manager, will be playing against the first team for the first time in his career. His side are coming off a 2-0 victory against the Europa League champions Sevilla thanks to goals from Imanol Agirretxe and Xabi Prieto.
Agirretxe, with nine goals in La Liga is currently third in the Pichichi race, surpassing Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo but below Neymar and Suarez with 12 and 11 goals respectively.
If they can try and rely on players like him and Mexican forward Carlos Vela up front, as well as the goalkeeping abilities of Argentine Gerónimo Rulli, then victory may not be impossible.
Historically in the two meetings last season, Sociedad won at home in San Sebastián by 1-0 before losing at the Camp Nou to Barcelona 2-0.
Luis Enrique has stated that Barcelona want to stay top of the league and ''hope to keep this run going as long as possible".
However, he stated that his opponents will be tough as, "with Eusebio, 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.”
Eusebio, on the other hand, has praised Barcelona because of the '''very high level they are at right now," but that his side "have to focus on [themselves] to exploit [their] virtues so that [Barcelona's] are minimised."
Barcelona (4-3-3): Bravo; Alves, Pique, Bartra, Alba; Busquets, Iniesta, Rakitic; Messi, Suarez, Neymar.
Real Sociedad (4-2-3-1): Rulli; Elustondo, Inigo, Mikel, De La Bella; Pardo, Zurutuza; Bruma, Canales, Vela; Agirretxe.