Ivan Rakitic admits Barcelona are “enjoying themselves” right now, as the Liga leaders go in search of a sixth straight victory in all competitions when they host Real Sociedad on Saturday.
Luis Enrique’s side, who are four points clear at the top of the league, have hit 10 goals in their last two matches – Barca followed up their 4-0 triumph over Real Madrid in El Clasico with a 6-1 thrashing of Roma in Champions League action on Tuesday.
Lionel Messi played the full 90 minutes in the midweek European fixture, scoring twice in his first start since suffering a knee injury against Las Palmas back on September 26.
However, Barcelona have shown they can prosper without Messi in their team. They have lost just once without him, going down 2-1 away to Sevilla at the start of October.
Midfielder Rakitic puts their recent run of excellent results down to the spirit in the squad, though he acknowledges Barca must be prepared for the potential of tougher times around the corner.
“The feeling that I have is that we’re enjoying ourselves out there on the field,” he told the club’s official website.
“We’re enjoying working on a daily basis, and that’s the most important thing.
“The end of the season is a long way away. We’re very happy but we know there will be games where perhaps we need to do a little bit more.”
Sergi Roberto is a doubt for Barca after the midfielder picked up an ankle injury against Roma.
Sociedad, meanwhile, make the daunting trip to Barcelona fresh off a morale-boosting 2-0 victory over Sevilla.
The win came in their first outing under new boss Eusebio Sacristan. Now the former Barcelona B coach – who worked with Luis Enrique during his time at the Catalan club – gets the chance to take his current side to familiar surroundings.
Defender Yuri Berchiche admits the new manager is trying to bring a little bit of Barcelona’s style to Sociedad, though it is still early days yet.
“It’s a different way of working under the new coach. With Eusebio, the goalkeeper now acts as an extra outfield player and our moves are created from defence – you could see elements of that the other day,” he told the club’s official website.
“We cannot come to many conclusions just yet as we’ve only been working on these things for two weeks.
“The ideas are quite clear, we have to move the ball about quicker and when we lose possession, we have to press to win it back.”
The visitors have a miserable La Liga record at Barcelona. The last time they even managed to get a draw at the ground was back in the 1994-95 season.
Key Opta stats:
– Barcelona have won their last 17 La Liga games at Camp Nou against Real Sociedad
– Of the sides to have faced Barcelona 68 or more times in La Liga, Real Sociedad have secured the fewest wins (3).
– Only Real Madrid (321) have made more crosses than Real Sociedad (317) in La Liga this season.
– Luis Enrique’s side have scored the highest ratio of goals in the second half of games in La Liga this season (76 per cent).
– Lionel Messi has scored eight goals against Real Sociedad – a joint-low for teams that he has 10 or more times (alongside Villarreal).