On Saturday, Barça go to Anoeta for the first time since 2007. Their last visit to Real Sociedad ended in a 2-0 win against a side that ultimately faced the drop to the second division.
Historically difficult trip
Both at the old Atotxa stadium and the new Anoeta, Barça have often found things heavy going. In 63
games between Real Sociedad and Barça in the Basque Country, Barça have only won 17. They have
suffered 24 defeats and there have been 22 draws. In these games, Real Sociedad have scored 89
goals, four more than Barça with 85.
After four years, Barça are going back to tread the Anoeta turf. The last time was on the 33rd day
of the League Championship of 2006/07, when Frank Rijkaard took the team to San Sebastian as league
leaders by just one point over Sevilla, and two over third placed Real Madrid. Barça won 2-0 after
losing their last two away matches.
Fruitless first half dominance
Barça’s side featured Valdés, Zambrotta, Thuram, Puyol, Gio, Edmílson, Xavi,
Iniesta, Messi, Eto’o and Ronaldinho, with Gudjohnsen and Oleguer coming on in the second
half. Without playing brilliant football, Barça dominated the first 45 minutes and got the best
chances, with Xavi coming close after 27 when keeper Bravo turned the ball behind for a corner and
the same man also had a goal disallowed for offside. Real Sociedad had set out to defend, and got
what they wanted when the first half ended scoreless.
Iniesta goal changes game
Two minutes after the break, Ronaldinho and Iniesta came into their own. The latter
scored following an assist from the Brazilian, and that meant Miguel Angel Lotina was finally
forced to send his team into attack. But that just served to create more space for Barça.
Eto’o and Ronaldinho tested Bravo and then Messi was the victim of an unawarded penalty
by referee Teixiera Vitienes. Only Brazilian Savio was causing any danger on Valdés’ goal.
The second goal came late on, from another assist from Ronaldinho to allow Eto’o to slot home
beneath Bravo. The three points meant Barça collected three points that kept them top of the
league, while Real Madrid moved into second place by beating Sevilla 3-2.