The goalkeeper who impressed the planet in his World Cup stint with Chile is going to return this weekend to play against the side he captained for eight seasons. Though this time around he will be guarding his goal wearing a Catalan shirt. The Chile shot-stopper signed a four-year deal with Barca in June last year, making a €12 million move.
“It will be a special game,” he said. “Every game I have played in my new career here have been fantastic but this will be special because it is against my former club and I have unforgettable memories from there.”
The Chilean has been impressive in Barca colors having conceded only 7 goals in last 16 Liga matches.
Real Sociedad which has been recently taken over by David Moyes has lost only one match since his arrival. But out of the total of seven games they have played under the Scot they have managed to win only two.
Luis Enrique’s Barcelona is currently second in the table one point behind leaders Real Madrid who still have a game in hand. Valdes has hinted the team to keep on piling the pressure on the league race as he believes their rival Capital club is likely to slip in the race in the coming months.
Barcelona will boast their star-studded line-up of Messi and Neymar who have jointly scored a total of 26 goals. Also Suarez who has scored just one league goal this season is likely to add to his personal tally.
It was a quiet January transfer window for Barcelona as the ban imposed upon them by the Court of Arbitration of Sport has still been upheld.
If we look at the head-to-head record of the recent times, Sociedad have a slight upper hand. They had beaten Barcelona 3-1 at San Sebastian in February last year. As well as beating Barca in the league last season they also drew 1-1 with the Catalan giants at Anoeta in the Copa del Rey. Barcelona’s last victory in Anoeta has come way back in May 2007.
The Basque club has shown tremendous resilience under Moyes considering the fact that they have lost only one game out of seven. Meanwhile, Barcelona has to win in order to keep up with Real Madrid and draw will be as good as a loss considering the league standings.
Carlos Vela’s injury made him miss the last two games and his presence in the first team is still a doubt. If fit he would undoubtedly be the key player of Sociedad as he has already scored 17 goals this season.
Sociedad’s last league game against Levante ended a 1-1 draw despite of their relentless possession of the ball. They sit just two points above the relegation zone. Barcelona on the other hand arrive at San Sebastian on the backing of a heavy 5-0 league win against relegation threatened Cordoba.
The clash at Anoeta, San Sebastian will be an intriguing one as Claudio Bravo marks his return to his previous home for the first time. With the league race tightening up Barcelona will definitely push ahead to add some positives to their poor recent record against Sociedad. Moyes on the other hand would be overwhelmed if he fetches his third win with Sociedad against a title contender.
MATCH DATE: January 4, 2015 21:00 UTC
VENUE: Estadio Municipal De Anoeta, San Sebastian
REFEREE: Carlos Del Cerro Grande
FORM (Last 6 La Liga games):
Real Sociedad: WDWLDD
Real Sociedad: Rulli, Martinez, Martinez, Ansotegui, De La Bella, Bergara, Granero, Prieto, Canales, Finnbogason, Vela
Barcelona: Bravo, Montoya, Pique, Mascherano, Alba, Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta, Neymar, Suarez, Messi
Prediction Real Sociedad vs. Barcelona 4-1-2015
Real Sociedad 0 : Barcelona 2