Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Prediction: Barcelona vs Real Sociedad

Verdict: Over 3.5 goals

Best Odds: 3/7

Bookmaker: 888sport

Spanish champions Barcelona play host to Real Sociedad in the final match of the La Liga season which will officially mark the end of Andres Iniesta’s career at the Camp Nou.

Barcelona

The Catalans are ready to put an end on a successful season in Spain when they welcome Real Sociedad on Sunday night. With a league trophy in the bag and Copa del Rey title secured as well, one might think this was a rather successful season for Barcelona.

A bitter feeling remains, however, after the Champions League disappointment and following last weekend’s 5-4 La Liga defeat which ruined Barcelona’s dream of finishing the domestic season unbeaten. Overall, the 2017/18 season’s victory feels like defeat and Ernesto Valverde will have to go back to the drawing board if he is allowed to remain at helm for the next campaign. A summer of change in ahead of him at Barcelona with midfield maestro Andres Iniesta waving goodbye after 22 years at the club. The legendary Spanish international cried before the press as he announced he will be leaving the club at the end of the season and the forthcoming game – albeit without any competitive edge – will be an emotional affair, for the player and the fans alike.

Team News

Belgium defender Thomas Vermaelen will miss the final game of the season after suffering a set-back during Sunday’s match at Levante.

Ernesto Valverde is expected to shuffle his deck and could once again decided to leave Leo Messi out of the starting line-up.

Real Sociedad

Heading into the final day of the 2017/18 season, Real Sociedad are already looking towards the next campaign as they begin search for a new permanent head coach. Current boss Imanol Alguacil was handed a short-term deal back in March – when he replaced Eusebio Sacristan – and is expected to get back to coaching the club’s reserve team once the season concludes. The club chiefs have already launched a search party and a couple of names have been highlighted as potential candidates.

Asier Garitano appears to be leading the line at the moment with Spanish press suggesting that the Leganes head coach has already visited Anoeta last Saturday to discuss a potential deal. Previous targets Unai Emery and Javi Gracia are both out of the club’s reach which led to Garitano, who is said to be very highly regarded among the Anoeta hierarchy. Real Sociedad travel to Barcelona without pressure and will give their best to continue their fine form of late, which saw them win five of their last seven matches. The club had a fair share of struggles on the road but the lack of pressure could be their biggest advantage heading to Camp Nou.

Team News

Xabi Prieto and Carlos Martinez were given an emotional farewell last week and could be left outside the team for Barcelona.

Juanmi and Odriozola are pushing for a starting berth, whereas the visitors will have no selection issues for the Camp Nou trip.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Andres Iniesta will play his final game for Barcelona on Sunday
  • There have been over 3.5 goals scored in Barcelona’s last six matches
  • The Catalans won all of the last 4 meetings with Real Sociedad
  • Real Sociedad have yet to triumph at Camp Nou, losing all of their previous visits
  • Visitors won only one of their last ten matches on the road

Conclusion

The final game of the season will carry no competitive significance for either side involved. It will however be a nice chance to bid farewell to Andres Iniesta with another triumph and Barcelona are definitely considered firm favourites to win this one. Betting on goals could provide a bigger value, however, than betting on outcome.

Verdict: Over 3.5 goals

Best Odds: 3/7

Bookmaker: 888sport

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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