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Jan 12, 2018

La Liga Preview: Real Sociedad vs. Barcelona

Real Sociedad home superiority: Sample size or real advantage?

The return of Ousmane Dembélé

Real Sociedad vs. Barcelona live odds

La Liga Preview: Real Sociedad vs. Barcelona

Real Sociedad host reigning champions Barcelona in the La Liga game of the week. The Basque side have a strong La Liga record at home to Barca. Read on to find out if there is value on offer in the Real Sociedad vs. Barcelona odds.

Live Real Sociedad vs. Barcelona odds 

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Real Sociedad vs Barcelona at home: Sample size or real advantage?

Since their promotion to La Liga ahead of the 2010/11 season no side has a better record at home against Barcelona than Real Sociedad. The Catalans are still yet to achieve a win at The Anoeta stadium despite dominant records against other La Liga sides.

Real Sociedad have had a solid La Liga record since promotion with an average league position of 9th. They also have a similarly unspectacular home record, making Barcelona’s struggle to secure points in San Sebastián all the more surprising.

Barcelona record away to Real Sociedad

Barcelona record away to Real Sociedad

Season

Away Points Per Game

Points away vs. Sociedad

2016/17

2.21

1

2015/16

2.21

0

2014/15

2.37

0

2013/14

1.95

0

2012/13

2.37

0

2011/12

2.05

1

2010/11

2.42

0

Intriguingly, Barcelona’s poor record against Sociedad does not extend to matches at the Camp Nou. Barca have won all seven of their home matches against Sociedad since the Basque side’s promotion.

This suggests that Sociedad’s strong record in this fixture is unlikely to be a result of contrasts in the two sides’ style of play. Whether this an extreme example of home team advantage or merely a result of a small sample size is open for debate.

One factor that may help Barcelona this time is the ongoing redevelopment of The Anoeta. The stadium’s capacity is currently reduced from 25000 to 35000 spectators whilst the stadium is expanded to 42000 seats.

Research by Harvard academic Ryan Boyko found that for every 10,000 home fans a team’s home advantage increased by 0.1 goals, so the reduced number of spectators may slightly aid Barcelona. This will be especially true if it is the presence of the home fans that has helped Sociedad to their strong home record against Barca.

The Return of Ousmane Dembélé

Barcelona’s club record signing of Phillippe Coutinho has been the headline this week around the Camp Nou. As a result, the impressive return of another big name signing has gone slightly unnoticed. Ousmane Dembélé, the 147 million euro signing from Borussia Dortmund, will be aiming to make his mark in San Sebastián. He has the ability to impact the game if utilised from the start.

Whilst Coutinho will need to adapt his game to his new side, Dembélé appears to already be a good fit for the Catalan side. Coutinho likes to shoot from distance but Dembélé’s greatest strength is providing opportunities for others.

Dembélé’s expected assists per 90 of 0.51 last season made him the Bundesliga’s most creative player (minimum 10 appearances). Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez in particular should be able to profit from the young Frenchman’s return from injury.

Dembélé was signed primarily to replace the departing Neymar. The difference in style between the two players makes for an interesting comparison.

Dembélé vs Neymar 2016/17

Dembélé vs Neymar 2016/17

Player

Xg/90

Xa/90

Shots/90

Ousmane Dembélé

0.26

0.51

2.42

Neymar

0.48

0.36

3.56

Whilst Neymar offered a greater direct goal threat, Dembélé assisted more opportunities for his teammates. Lionel Messi has been in great form this season and could be set to benefit from Dembélé’s presence in the side. The Argentine has offered a more direct attacking threat this season in the absence of the Brazilian, as shown by the increase in his expected goals stat.

Lionel Messi 16/17 vs 17/18

Lionel Messi 16/17 vs 17/18

 Season

Xg/90

Shots per 90

Messi 2017/18

1.01

6.22

Messi 2016/17

0.85

5.69


If Dembélé can bring his undoubted creativity to the Barcelona side then star player Messi could be an even greater threat to oppositing defences.

Sunday’s match will continue Dembélé’s injury-hit adaptation to his new role at Barca. If he is announced to be in the starting line-up then Barcelona may well be even stronger than they have been so far this season.

Real Sociedad vs. Barcelona odds: Where is the value?

This weekend’s match is an interesting one for bettors. Where the value lies is dependent on the existence of Real Sociedad’s apparent home superiority against Barcelona. Without this factor the game could result in another routine win for Barcelona.

However, if the Real Sociedad home advantage is as impactful as previous results suggest then the Basque side could be undervalued. Bettors who are convinced by the head to head record of the two sides may find value in the Real Sociedad +1.5 handicap odds at 1.775*.

Alternatively, if previous results can be attributed to a small sample size rather than a consistent home advantage, bettors will expect Barcelona to continue their great form. Ousmane Dembélé providing the assists for Messi and Suárez is certainly a threatening prospect. If the Barca front three control the game then Barcelona to score over 2.25 goals at 1.9* could offer value to such bettors. 

Odds subject to change

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