Barcelona can count themselves fortunate to have salvaged a point at Real Sociedad on Saturday during a 2-2 draw.
The hosts were comfortably the more dominant side, managing 19 shots to La Blaugrana’s nine and even enjoyed the greater share of possession.
Mikel Oyarzabal put Real ahead from the spot in the 12th minute but former player Antoine Griezmann restored parity against the run of play seven minutes before the break.
Lionel Messi then squared the ball for Luis Suarez to tap in and give the visitors the lead early in the second half, however, Alexader Isak made it 2-2 just past the hour-mark.
GRIEZMANN HAUNTS SOCIEDAD
‘Haunts’ is apt because Griezmann ghosted into dangerous areas in the final third with alarming frequency at the Anoeta.
The Frenchman was predictably the centre of attention leading up to kick-off but once referee Javier Alberola Rojas blew his whistle to commence proceedings, the forward seemed to vanish.
Yet his slow start only seemed to lure Sociedad – who dominated their guests early on – into a false sense of security.
He sprung into life on the break late in the first half and scored with a delightful chip over Alex Remiro to cancel out Oyarzabal’s opener from the spot.
It was a rare involvement in the opening period for Griezmann but he continued to ghost in behind the Basque defence from then on and became far more influential in attack, finishing with a game-high three shots two of which were on target.
So well did he master the art of popping up where least expected that in the 78th minute, he took Willian Jose by surprise when he approached from the striker’s blindside to make an excellent block just as he pulled the trigger on the edge of the box.
ODEGAARD IS REAL DEAL
All the hype at Real Madrid only resulted in bitter disappointment for Martin Odegaard but with so much stock invested in the youngster, Los Blancos didn’t dare sell.
After a resurgence on loan at Vitesse last season, a spell away at Sociedad in this campaign has proved to be a coming of age for the 20-year-old.
Named La Liga Player of the Month in September after a scintillating display in a 2-0 win over Atletico Madrid, he followed up with another impressive game against his parent club. Another exciting performance against Barcelona on Saturday now confirms his growth as a player.
Playing in a central role, Sociedad’s best moves seemed to flow through him as he and Oyarzabal combined sublimely on a number of occasions.
No one made more than the Dane’s three key passes on the day or completed more than his three dribbles and those stats only begin to tell the story. His exploitation of pockets of space in the final third was remarkable and Barca players were noticeably confused as to who should’ve been picking him up.
Madrid are not short of attacking talent but will be keeping a close eye on Odegaard who’s gaining valuable first-team action.
Martin Ødegaard Vs Barcelona— Martin Ødegaard Fans (@OdegaardFC) December 14, 2019
-58 accurate passes
-87% passing accuracy
-3 key passes
-4/4 dribbles won
-2 long balls
-2 accurate crosses
Class perform from golden boy 👏 pic.twitter.com/SkaHLsZDU5
EL CLASICO IMPLICATIONS
The draw at the Anoeta ended a run of seven straight wins in all competitions for Ernesto Valverde’s side. More importantly, it’s left the door wide open for fierce rivals Madrid to take command of the league.
A win at Valencia on Sunday night will see Los Blancos [currently a point adrift] leapfrog the Catalans and claim top spot ahead of the Clasico on Wednesday.
Having dropped points consistently at the start of the campaign, Zinedine Zidane will be thrilled to find his side neck and neck with Barcelona for the title at this stage of the season.
It sets up the encounter between the two perfectly before the winter break.
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