MADRID (AFP) – Barcelona gave Real Madrid the chance to go top of La Liga ahead of Wednesday’s Clasico at Camp Nou as they were held to a 2-2 draw by high-flying Real Sociedad last Saturday night.
A mistake by Barca’s usually excellent goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen gifted the home side an equaliser in a thrilling contest at Anoeta between two of the division’s most attacking teams.
Antoine Griezmann and Luis Suarez looked to have turned the game around after Mikel Oyarzabal scored an early penalty but Real Sociedad claimed a deserved point as Ter Stegen parried into the path of Alexander Isak.
Madrid will pull two points clear at the top of the table if they win away at in-form Valencia, which could prove a significant psychological boost ahead of their crunch meeting with Barcelona in midweek.
“Wednesday’s game will be different,” said Barca coach Ernesto Valverde. “The game has a special meaning but there are some things we need to improve.”
Real Sociedad, meanwhile, move to within three points of Sevilla in third and showed why many have them circled as genuine challengers for Champions League qualification this season.
Barca may have had one eye on their next encounter, particularly given renewed fears of unrest around the Clasico, which had to be postponed in October due to Catalan independence protests.
Two tight penalty calls also went Real Sociedad’s way as they got one for a shirt-pull by Sergio Busquets and got with away another as Gerard Pique went down at the back post late on.
“If you set the bar so low for the first penalty, you have to give the others,” said Busquets.
“The foul on Pique was clear. I think the referee saw it but he didn’t want to whistle.”
Yet Real Sociedad were excellent value for their point, with Martin Odegaard, the Norwegian playmaker on loan from Real Madrid, delivering a majestic display to help his parent club’s title bid.
“Now he is playing regularly you can see what a player he is,” Valverde said.