Head coach Xavi Hernandez praised Takefusa Kubo.
Barcelona defeated Real Sociedad 1-0 in the 12th round of the 2023-24 Spanish La Liga at the Realle Arena in San Sebastián, Spain, at 5 a.m. ET on Friday. With the win, Barcelona bounced back from their El Clasico loss to move into third place in the league with 27 points.
The hosts lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation. Mikel Oyarzabal, Kubo, Ander Varenechea, Mikel Merino, Martin Subramendi, Bryce Mendes, Aién Muñoz, Robinho, Igor Subeldia, Amari Traore, and Alex Remiro started for the visitors.
Their opponents, Barcelona, lined up in a 3-4-1-2 formation. João Felix, Robert Lewandowski, Fermín López, Alejandro Valdez, Ilkay Gundogan, Pablo Gabi, João Cancelo, Inigo Martínez, Jules Kunde, Araujo, and Thierry Henry were in the starting lineup.
Right from the start, Sociedad had the decisive chance. In the first minute, Varenecchia won the ball on the left flank, cut inside and fired a powerful shot that was saved by goalkeeper Thier Stegen.
Soon after, Sociedad had another chance. In the third minute, a mistake by Kunde to set up Thayer Stegen led to a one-on-one opportunity for Oyarzabal, who was denied by Thayer Stegen. From the ensuing corner, Merino tried to score again with a powerful header, but it went wide of the target.
Sociedad continued to push forward. In the 16th minute, a cross from the left flank by Varenecchia failed to reach Oyarzabal and found Kubo on the other side. Kubo collected the ball and fired a powerful shot from a narrow angle that was saved by Thierry Steigen. Then, in the 33rd minute, Thierry Henry headed in a cross from the left flank that was met by Subramendi with a second-ball opportunity, but he headed wide of the goal.
Barcelona’s first real shot on target came in the 45th minute. Felix was brought down in the box, causing a scramble, and Lopez pounced on the loose ball, but his shot was headed straight at the keeper, leaving the half at 0-0.
Neither team made any changes to start the second half.
The second half was all Sociedad. In the ninth minute of the second half, Kubo stripped the defense on the right flank before crossing for Mendes, who shot straight at the keeper. In the 10th minute, Kubo received a roving pass from Subramendi and tried to shoot, but was ruled offside.
The frustrating offense continued, and Barcelona made a bold substitution. Twelve minutes into the second half, Lopez and Lewandowski were taken off for Pedri and Ferran Torres.
Sociedad also made a change. In the 18th minute, Traore came off for Aritz Elustondo.
Thierry Steigen continued to make saves in the second half. In the 26th minute, Varenechea unleashed a powerful volley from quite a distance that was saved by Thierry Henry, who was unfazed by the opposition’s pressure and kept his composure in the buildup to the goal.
In the dying minutes of the match, Barcelona had the decisive chance. In the 42nd minute, Torres received a pass from the left flank and fired a powerful shot from the front of the penalty arc, but it sailed high and wide. Then, in the 44th minute, Araujo picked up the ball on the right flank, but his shot was saved by Remiro.
Finally, Barcelona rattled the net in dramatic fashion. In stoppage time, Gundogan’s cross from the left flank was met by a diving header from Araujo as he cut into the box. It was a one-sided affair until the final minutes of the second half, when Araujo put the game out of reach. Araujo’s theater goal ended the game with a 1-0 Barcelona victory.
After the game, Xavi spoke to the media about his feelings. “The defeat in the previous ‘El Clasico’ affected us. The first 25 minutes of this game were unacceptably bad,” he said. “I said that no one should be tired. I asked the players to be more intense. In the previous game, Real Madrid were more intense. That’s why we didn’t create chances. But today’s win was very important for us. The win puts us back in the race for the title,” he added.
He then brought up the name of Kubo, who threatened Barcelona with his lively movements at the Sociedad. “He is a world-class player with and without the ball. “Sociedad is a great team and Imanol Alguacil is a great coach, especially Kubo, who is a very good player.
Despite the loss, Kubo’s performance was impressive. Playing the full game, Kubo had one shot on target, three successful dribbles (out of four), five key passes, and two long passes (out of two), giving him a rating of 7.6, the highest on the team, according to SoccerScore. Football stats outlet Footmob also recognized his performance with a 7.4 rating, the highest on the team. 토토사이트