Barcelona 1-2 Real Sociedad: Title celebrations fall flat for champions

By Sports Desk May 20, 2023

Barcelona's LaLiga title celebrations fell flat at Camp Nou as they suffered a 2-1 defeat to Real Sociedad on Saturday.

Xavi's side claimed the top-flight crown with a 4-2 win over Espanyol last time out, with the team celebrating on the pitch afterwards – much to the chagrin of their rivals' fans.

Yet the Blaugrana were unable to mark their first league title since 2019 with a victory on their return home, with Mikel Merino's early strike and Alexander Sorloth's breakaway finish claiming the points for La Real.

Robert Lewandowski's late header sparked hope for Barca, but their visitors clung on for a first away win at Camp Nou since May 1991, putting Imanol Alguacil's side in the box seat for Champions League football with three games remaining.

La Real caught their hosts cold on the counter inside five minutes, with Merino tucking home an early finish.

Barca seemed set to equalise when Ousmane Dembele met Lewandowski's delivery, but Alex Remiro made a fantastic save, before the Poland international dragged wide from close range.

The Blaugrana meanwhile lived a charmed life at the other end, as Ander Barrenetxea squandered two golden opportunities either side of Marc-Andre ter Stegen denying Mohamed Ali-Cho.

Sorloth subsequently headed wide from six yards out, but the Norway international made no mistake afterwards when he finished a superb counter-attack.

Lewandowski's fine header set up a grandstand finish late on but La Real held firm through five minutes of added time to move five points clear of fifth-place Villarreal with a worthy win.

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    Pep Guardiola thinks Phil Foden can still get better, after the 23-year-old winning the Premier League’s Player of the Year.

    Foden has been a pivotal part of City’s title challenge this season, scoring 17 goals and providing eight assists in the top-flight in 2023-24.

    It is the youngster’s most prolific scoring season for City, while only six players have bettered Foden’s goal haul in the Premier League.

    When asked about the strides that Foden has made this season, leading him to the award, Guardiola praised the England international’s influence on the squad.

    "Obviously, he makes a step forward as a football player. In terms of minutes or time, but he's decisive in winning games," Guardiola said.

    "Maybe before it was a glimpse of action, but now it's consistent. That is the truth, but they still have a margin. Sometimes his game is overexcited, it's over, and you have to be more calm because his excitement he has for himself, but we'll have question of time, but this season has been really, really important. Really, really important."

    Foden has bettered his tally of 11 goals from last season and leads City’s squad for chances created this campaign with 68.

    "He's moving forward, but I had the feeling he can be better, and I think he can do it because I've said many times, that he loves football," Guardiola added.

    "He enjoys being on the pitch, and I think the feeling doesn't like when you have the day off.

    "He likes to be in the training session doing less or more and I had the feeling it still can be better."

    Manchester City can win a fourth-consecutive Premier League title on Sunday against West Ham, if they can match or better Arsenal's result.

  • Objectives met: Shabazz pleased with Golden Jaguars' showing despite losses to T&T Objectives met: Shabazz pleased with Golden Jaguars' showing despite losses to T&T

    Despite losing both friendly encounters to Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana senior men’s Head coach Jamaal Shabazz says their objectives were met, as the players that made the trip to the twin island republic gained invaluable experience that will assist to shape their future in the sport.

    The Golden Jaguars lost 1-2 and 0-2 to Angus Eve’s Soca Warriors at the Crawford Stadium, in Port of Spain, but for Shabazz, the fixtures served their purpose of gauging the readiness of players, who competed in recently concluded Round One of the KFC Elite League Season, especially with the Concacaf World Cup qualifiers scheduled to get under way next month.

    “We did not win, but a lot of questions were answered as to who is ready to move into our full international squad. We achieved our other objectives. We got higher level match practice for the likes of Daniel Wilson, Kelsey Benjamin, Curtez Kellman, Colin Nelson and Ryan Hackett, all of whom travel with our first team. We gave valuable exposure to players like Marcus Tudor, Simeon Moore, Chris Macey and Stephen McDonald, just to name a few,” Shabazz shared.

    “It is clear that player for player we were able to match our opponents. Some boys gave a good account of themselves, and some were a bit nervous. Most importantly, the lads would have learnt a few lessons for their future, like the margin for error at international level is small and the need for more composure in front of goal,” he added.

    Aside from those he mentioned, Shabazz also had three overseas-based players from Canada, France and the United States, in his 24-member squad, and by all indications, a few more might be assessed, as the tactician prepares to select his final squad for the qualifiers.

    Guyana will contest Group D of the qualifiers, alongside Panama, Montserrat, Belize and Nicaragua. They are set to open against Panama in Panama City on June 6, followed by the Belize encounter on June 11 in Barbados.

    Shabazz expressed gratitude for the continued support in gifting local-based players the opportunity to showcase their potential, and challenge for spots in the final squad.

    “I must thank the Government of Guyana and the Guyana Football Federation for enabling this exposure for the home-based players. At least twice a year we should get these types of matches for home-based players to develop,” Shabazz noted.

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    Pep Guardiola believes that other clubs do have the chance to win the Premier League while he is the Manchester City manager. 

    Guardiola has led the Citizens to five top-flight titles in his seven seasons in charge, including each of the last three in a row.

    They have the opportunity to win an unprecedented fourth consecutive Premier League campaign – they must match or better Arsenal’s result on the final day against West Ham to finish top of the table.

    Asked what he thought about the narrative that suggested other teams struggle to win the title while he is at City, Guardiola immediately brushed the idea aside.

    He said: "It is wrong, look at the margin. If every season I won by 20 points, then I would say yes I am a genius, I'm so good, but it's not.

    "The Premier League we won against Liverpool they could have won. Arsenal can win, we can win. It's like that.

    "My judgement about the team, about how we behave, nothing changed, nothing changed. My opinion of Liverpool this year has not changed, whether they have won or not won.

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    Guardiola was also quick to highlight the hard work of everybody at the club during their title challenge.

    "It's not because of what we have done in the past gives you this season, it's completely the opposite," he continued. 

    "There are a lot of work for all departments. How many my backroom staff, the medical department, the physio department, how they care all the seasons, every single few, few injuries.

    "Injuries are always there, but the balance is ridiculous, how good it is, and that's because there is a lot of work, they care about the players and the people, you know, every single day, hours and hours being above the players, you have to do this, you have to do this, you have to do this to be fit. So otherwise, we cannot be where we are."

    The City manager was also asked about his future at the club, and whether he would be continuing past the end of the season.

    "Yeah, I have a contract. I want to be here next season, yes," he added. 

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