Barcelona defender Jordi Alba scored another goal to make a 2-1 comeback at Real Sociedad, depriving the Basque country of the top of the Spanish League on Wednesday.
Alba canceled Luilian Jose's first goal with a kick in the 32nd minute. The left-back helped the home side advance one minute before half-time when he sent across to Frenkie de Jong to score.
The result changed the standings of Sociedad, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid, all tied at the top of the table and only the goal difference separated them. Atletico is now in first, Sociedad in second, and Madrid in third.
Barcelona's victory increased their chances of joining the title race. Lionel Messi's team moved up to fifth, six points behind the leaders. Atletico has three outstanding matches, Barcelona two and Madrid one, as far as the association is concerned.
"I think this was the best game for us this season," Alba said. "It's difficult to play without fans (due to COVID-19 restrictions), but playing against a great team was more than enough motivation. Our position tonight was great. We saw Barcelona fight for every ball as if it was the last."
While contributing as Barcelona's main playmaker, Messi was unable to seriously threaten to score and twice failed to find teammates promising counter-attacks.
His fellow strikers Antoine Griezmann and Martin Braithwaite also lost the final touch.
However, the team maintained intense pressure on defense on the field and moved the ball quickly in attack to continue creating opportunities.
“Our team's behavior was very good, especially when we didn't have the ball.” Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman said, “The team has taken a giant step forward in pressing to regain control.” This is the game we want to play. This is the team I want to see. Every player took his turn. "
Koeman may also have found a new combination of central defense with Gerard Pique injured. Coman gave rest to the heart of Clement Lenglet's defense and chose to form an inexperienced midfield with Ronald Araujo and Oscar Mingus. They both performed well against one of the fastest and most talented attacks in the league.
His only mistake came late in the match when Mengoiza failed to intercept a long ball from substitute striker Alexandre Isaacs, but Pedro "Pedri" Gonzalez ran to block his shot before hitting the post. Pedri was substituted after the heavy blow but left the field.
The community was without David Silva and the main target, Mikel Uyarzabal, both of whom had minor injuries.
However, with Spanish midfielder Mikel Merino leading his attack, Sociedad still has enough talent to deploy a catchy attack that makes him a potential contender for the title.
Willian Jose finished a free-kick to open the scoring at 28. Robin Law Norman brought Portuguese Christian "Porto" to the area, squaring the ball for the Brazilian striker to touch the goal.
Alba responded with a precise right-footed shot after Pedri redirected a pass from Griezmann near the edge of the area.
Barcelona continued to press for the lead that Alba climbed when he sent a low cross that hit the defender slightly before hitting De Jong.
La Sociedad recovered late and forced Barcelona to rely on Marc-Andre ter Stegen to protect his favor. The German crouched to enter back-to-back and repel Willian Jose and Issac five minutes before the end.
"It has been a long time since we saw Barcelona playing with this level of aggressiveness, and this speaks of the respect they have for us," said Emanuel El Guile, the association's coach. "We weren't as clinical as we should be. We have to shift our chances."
COPA DEL REY
Valencia needed extra time to beat Terrassa 4-2 in the first round of the Copa del Rey with first-division teams.
Atletico Madrid, Villarreal, Levante, Alaves and Elche scored comfortable victories.
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