After a rather unconvincing win over the weekend against Getafe, Barcelona now shift their attention to the Copa del Rey quarterfinals where they face a Real Sociedad in a tremendous run of form.
La Real are currently on a five-game winning streak in LaLiga and have not lost a match since Nov. 3 when they fell to Manchester United in the Europa League group stage. They’re also in third place, only six points behind Barcelona. In other words, Barcelona will be presented with a sterner test than they faced in Intercity and Ceuta.
The good news for both Barcelona and Xavi Hernandez is they will be able to count on a couple of players they couldn’t against Getafe. Robert Lewandowski and Ferran Torres will be back with the Polish striker a lock to get the starting nod.
Lewandowski scored twice in the round of 16 against Ceuta and also nabbed a tally in the Spanish Super Cup against Real Madrid. He’s once again hitting a good run of form at the right time.
Speaking of the Spanish Super Cup, it’s expected Xavi will resort to the line-up he sent out against Real Madrid. Instead of the usual 4-3-3, it’s going to be more of a 4-4-2 with four in midfield with Gavi given liberty to roam on the left side of the attack.
The only question remaining is who starts in goal for Xavi. Iñaki Peña has started all the games in the cup but Xavi could opt for the more experienced Marc-Andre ter Stegen even if some might see it as a bit unfair to the 23-year-old keeper.
Playing at home could be an advantage but recently Barcelona have left much to be desired. Again, they struggled to put away Getafe but they might feel it’ll be different with the return of Lewandowski.
These two teams already met once this season on Matchday 2 in LaLiga where Barcelona beat Real Sociedad 4-1 at the Reale Arena. Lewandowski scored his first two official goals for the club with Ousmane Dembélé and Ansu Fati also on the scoresheet.
Expected Barcelona line up:
Kounde – Araújo – Christensen – Balde
Pedri – Busquets – De Jong – Gavi
Dembélé – Lewandowski