While Real Madrid are running away with the La Liga title, the battle below Los Blancos is raging.
Five teams are still in play for a Champions League place, all within six points from second to sixth. Barcelona sit third on 60 points, level with Sevilla with a game in hand, and one back of second-placed Atletico Madrid with two games in hand.
Real Sociedad are in the mix as well, sitting sixth on 55 points, and have hung in the race despite key injuries. Goalless draws with Sevilla and Real Betis have kept the team afloat, but they need wins down the stretch.
Barca disappointingly lost to Cadiz last time out, and today’s match will determine whether that was an unfortunate blip or the continuation of a poorly timed skid that started with a Europa League exit to Eintracht Frankfurt. A bounce-back is key for Xavi and company.
MORE: Barcelona squad plans: Who will be out of contract, who should stay and who should Xavi sell in 2022?
Sporting News will be following the match live and providing score updates, commentary and highlights as they happen.
Royal Society vs. Barcelona live score, commentary
11th min — FCB — Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
31st min: Frenkie de Jong has been fantastic through the opening half-hour of this match. He goes for goal with a low curler hoping to pass it into the back of the net, but it’s just wide right. Then he charges through midfield and feeds Dembele whose shot is blocked.
28th minute: The game has returned somewhat since the opening goal, but the Real Sociedad fans are still incredibly loud. There’s a man on the microphone who is a constant auditory presence, and the supporters are following his lead from him. It’s quite the atmosphere.
It’s not having much of an effect on the team, though.
Real Sociedad are making me think there must be a negative correlation between how loud your capo is and how many goals the team scores.
— Alex Brotherton (@alex_brotherton) April 21, 2022
22nd minute: Real Sociedad pressing absurdly high, and it earns a throw deep in Barcelona territory after Dani Alves is swarmed on the touchline. They almost got to ter Stegen in possession too. It doesn’t come to anything, but the pressing is giving Barcelona problems in certain moments.
16th minute: A beautiful cutback by Dani Alves down the right comes to Ferran Torres unmarked near the top of the penalty area, but his shot is blasted to the moon. Barcelona looks simplistic yet dangerous up front.
11th min: GOAL! Barcelona! Well, it appeared for a moment that Barcelona was unlucky, with Ousmane Dembele pinging a tight-angled shot off the post, but La Real couldn’t clear it and Aubameyang heads the ball into the back of the net. There’s a VAR check to make sure that Aubameyang was onside, which he was as Ferran Torres on the feed was ahead of Aubameyang. Goal stands, Barcelona leads.
Aubameyang finishes off Ferran Torres’ cheeky assist 🤝 pic.twitter.com/TyXNuNweyd
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) April 21, 2022
10th minute: First action for Remiro who comes charging off his line to smother a Barcelona chance. Sergio Busquets with a beautiful through-ball to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but Remiro gets there first.
eleven – #Real society 🔵⚪️ are winless in their last 11 matches against @FC Barcelona 🔵🔴 in @LaLigaEN (D2 L9), their worst winless run against the Blaugrana in the competition since October 1960 (GP17 D3 L14). Step. pic.twitter.com/cS0ofVyJkU
– OptaJose (@OptaJose) April 21, 2022
7th minute: Frenkie de Jong takes aim for the first shot of the match, with his weaker left foot from well outside the top of the penalty area. It’s scuffed low and wide, no threat to Alex Remiro’s goal.
4th minute: Good early pressure from the home side, as the home fans applaud loudly every time La Real regain possession. Barcelona soaking up the pressure well, no real chances so far created by the hosts.
1st minute: The match is under way! A bit of a late start, but the match is now under way.
There is a bit of a delay to kickoff with former Real Sociedad player David Zurutuza giving a speech on the field
16 mins to kick: Barcelona have won 6-1 on its last visit to Reale Arena, and have won five of the last six meetings at this venue across all competitions.
And yet, widen the scope a bit, and this has been a House of Horrors for Barcelona in the past. From 2011 to 2017, the club failed to win a single match across an eight-game stretch, a run which Xavi was a part of for six of the games. He’ll remember this arena well, but probably not fondly.
It is difficult for Barcelona to win at the Reale Arena. 👀
In 74 games played there against Real Sociedad, they have only won 20. 😱
But in their last visit, Barça won 6⃣ – 1⃣
— bet365MX (@bet365mx) April 21, 2022
35 mins to kick: Barcelona’s unbeaten run came to an end last time out. Can La Real capitalize?
fifteen – #Barcelona 🔵🔴 have ended their best unbeaten run under Xavi Hernández (GP15 W11 D4). The team from the Top 5 European Leagues with the current best unbeaten run are AC Milan (GP12 – W6 D6). Eliminated. #UEL pic.twitter.com/2XuJLmdQAh
– OptaJose (@OptaJose) April 14, 2022
60 mins to kick: La Real also has its lineup in, and there are three Alex’s starting! Full lineups below.
80 mins to kick: Barcelona lineup is in a few minutes early, and it’s exactly as expected, with both Gerard Pique and Julian Araujo returning to the heart of defense. American international Sergino Dest also makes way for Dani Alves who was rested last time out.
100 mins to kick: Goodness, the Barcelona kit man works fast! 😉
– FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) April 21, 2022
1:30 p.m. ET / 7:30 p.m. local: Barcelona channeling days of yore in a key league matchup today on the road.
🔥 𝗧𝗢𝗣 𝟱 🔥
Our best goals 🆚 Real Sociedad pic.twitter.com/EvP0Dr678K
– FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) April 21, 2022
Royal Society vs. Barcelona line-ups
The loss of Mikel Oyarzabal to an ACL tear has been as devastating to the Real Sociedad attack as expected. The team’s leader in expected goals (xG) and expected assists (xA) went down in mid-March, and they have scored just three goals in the ensuing four matches. He sadly misses the chance to play today on his birthday. To make matters worse, David Silva is suspended for the match due to his very late sending-off against Real Betis.
It tracks that Adnan Januzaj returns to the starting lineup with all the attacking injuries, despite only playing around 30 minutes combined over the last three matches. For your was also a choice to enter the lineup, but the misfiring alexander sorloth retains his place.
Nacho Monreal and Carlos Fernandez have missed the entire season with serious knee injuries, and young Ander Barrenetxea has been missing since early January with a muscle tear.
Real Sociedad projected starting lineup (4-4-2 diamond): Remiro (GK) — Rico, Le Normand, Zubeldia, Zaluda – Rafinha, Merino, Zubimendi, Januzaj – Isak, Sorloth.
Royal Society subs (11): Ryan (GK), Djouhara, Guevara, Martin, Illarramendi, Guridi, Munoz, Gorosabel, Elustondo, Pacheco, Ayesa, Portu.
Real Sociedad are not the only team with a long list of missing players. Barcelona suffered a crucial loss as pedri will miss the rest of the season with a hamstring injury, and both Samuel Umtiti and Sergio Robert are not expected to feature just yet despite returning to training.
There are some reinforcements, however. Sergino Dest makes way for Daniel Alves who was rested against Cadiz, while Ronald Araujo returns after missing the loss to Cadiz due to yellow card suspension. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could not rescue Barcelona last time out off the bench, is back to a starting role in place of memphis depay.
The status of Gerard Piqué was unclear after missing last match with a groin problem, but he does indeed return to his role at the heart of defense alongside Araujo.
Barcelona starting lineup (4-3-3): Ter Stegen (GK) — Alba, Araujo, Pique, Alves — F. de Jong, Busquets, Gavi – Aubameyang, Torres, Dembele.
Barcelona subs (11): Neto (GK), Carevic, Dest, Mingueza, Garcia, Lenglet, Puig, Gonzalez, Depay, Braithwaite, L. de Jong, Traore.
MORE: Who stays and who goes at Man United?
How to watch Real Sociedad vs. Barcelona
|Date||Thursday, Apr. 21||Thursday, Apr. 21||Thursday, Apr. 21||Friday, Apr. 22|
|Time||20:00 BST||15:00 ET||15:00 ET||05:00 BST|
|TV-channel||The League TV||—||TSN1||beIN Sports 2|
|streaming||Amazon-Prime||ESPN+||TSN Direct||bein Connect|
In the United States, the Royal Society vs. Barcelona match is exclusively available on the ESPN+ streaming platform.
In the UK, the match will be shown on La Liga TV and streamed on Amazon Prime.
In Canada, the match will be broadcast by TSN on both television and streaming.
In Australia, the match will be broadcast by beIN Sports on both television and streaming.
Royal Society vs. Barcelona betting lines, picks & prediction
Odds via DraftKings (USA) & Sports Interaction (Canada)
The oddsmakers think there will be goals in this game, but there won’t, at least not from Real Sociedad’s end.
Since Mikel Oyarzabal — the team’s xG and xA leader — went down with a torn ACL, the team’s attack has suffered greatly. The remaining goalscorers Alexander Isak and Alexander Sorloth are both poor finishers, and don’t get many chances anyway. Sorloth in particular has been a black hole, with just two goals in over 1,200 minutes on 4.94 xG.
Barcelona’s defense took a slight step back against Cadiz, but both Pique and Araujo missed that match and should be back. Through February and March, Barcelona went seven straight league matches conceding under 1.0 xG, and the win over Levante on April 10 was the first time all season they conceded over 2.0 xG in league play.
It’s unclear how the Barcelona progression will recover without Pedri, but the defense will be fine, and jumping on the plus odds for a Barcelona clean sheet is a solid bet. If you think Barca will win, you can get them to win to zero at +250 but the safer play is keeping a clean sheet regardless of result.
Pick: Both teams NOT to score (+120 on DraftKings)
prediction: Real Sociedad 0-1 Barcelona
|Royal Society Win||+235||+241||+230|
|-115 / -105||-118 / -108||-125 / -110|
to score Y / N
|-160 / +120||-159 / +101||-165 / +120|
|Royal Society +0.5||-135||-143||–|