Barcelona kept within touching distance of Liga leaders Real Madrid ahead of next week’s Clasico, seeing out a nervy 3-2 win over a Real Sociedad side that probably deserved more at the Camp Nou.
Lionel Messi gave the hosts the lead after 17 minutes, doubling their advantage after the half-hour mark. However, a flurry of goals towards the end of the first half saw Real Sociedad drag themselves back into contention, with 3-2 the scoreline heading into the break.
The Catalans looked increasingly tired as the second half progressed, with their Champions League exerts against Juventus during the week having a real impact on their play, particularly at the back.
But La Real couldn’t make the most of their second half pressure, with Barcelona holding on for a crucial three points, keeping them in title contention ahead of next week’s trip to the capital to face Real Madrid.
TALKING POINT - Fatigue is hitting Barcelona for the second straight season
This happened last season. With Barcelona’s squad lacking in depth, fatigue caught up with them towards the end of the 2015/16 campaign, spoiling what was up until them looking to be a historic year. The Catalans vowed to add to their squad in the summer transfer window, but one year on they face the same situation, with their season fizzling out due to weariness.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Asier Illarramendi
The former Real Madrid midfielder controlled things in the middle of the park for Real Sociedad, getting the better of Ivan Rakitic, Andre Gomes and Sergio Busquets almost all on his own. Asier Illarramendi showed why he was once considered the finest young midfielder in Spain, excelling on the gigantic playing surface of the Camp Nou. He didn’t deserve to end up on the losing side.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen 5, Roberto 7, Pique 4, Umtiti 5, Alba 5, Busquets 5, Gomes 4, Rakitic 5, Messi 7, Suarez 5, Alcacer 6. Subs - Suarez 5, Iniesta 5.
Real Sociedad: Rulli 7, Zaldua 6, Martinez 6, Navas 6, Yuri 6, Zurutuza 5, Illarramendi 8, Prieto 7, Oyarzabal 7, Jose 6, Vela 5. Subs - Granero 6, Canales 5, Bautista 5.
Read the full article on eurosport.co.uk: Messi double helps Barca edge to win over Real Sociedad