Barcelona must defeat Real Sociedad despite Neymar absence

Barcelona host Real Sociedad in La Liga on Saturday (8:45pm local time, EXCLUSIVE ONLINE STREAMING here) in what is a huge game if the Catalan giants are serious about challenging Real Madrid for the championship this season. Luis Enrique's men, who travel to the Santiago Bernabeu for an epic El Clasico next week, can simply not afford to let any more mistakes considering Los Merengues are currently three points clear at the top of the table.

Luis Enrique will have to field a highly-competitive eleven despite the absences of Neymar (controversially banned) and Rafinha, Aleix Vidal, Arda Turan and Javier Mascherano (injured). Here is his 18-man squad for the game against Real Sociedad: Ter Stegen, Cillessen, Piqué, Rakitic, Sergio, Denis Suárez, Iniesta, Luis Suárez, Messi, Alcácer, Jordi Alba, Digne, Sergi Roberto, André Gomes, Umtiti, Mathieu, Aleñá and Cardona.

Luis Enrique explained before the game: "We will go up against one of the toughest opponents in the closing stages of the season for the way they attack and defend. We want to have a chance of winning the league, and that begins with a win against Real Sociedad. We are in the process of correcting the errors we have made and I am sure that the team will show up.”

Personally, I strongly believe it is now time for Paco Alcacer to be given a start and prove why Barcelona invested so heavily in signing him last summer. Replacing the in-form Neymar is obviously difficult, but the former Valencia striker was signed to deputise for any of the components of the MSN trident whenever unavailable -- which is the case.

As always, you can watch the game online, on mobile or on TV using our exclusive Barcablog streaming here.

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