Barcelona picked up their first win of the season in a 4-1 rout of Real Sociedad. A brace by Robert Lewandowski as well as goals from Ousmane Dembele and Ansu Fati led the Catalans past a tough opponent in La Real.
The win did not come easy as it never tends to do against Real Sociedad. Some deficiencies from the season opener against Rayo Vallecano were once again on display.
On paper, the match appeared to be one-sided given the score. However, appearances can be deceiving. Regardless, here are five talking points that came out of Barcelona’s win.
Change to a 3-4-3 formation
One immediate change from the season opener was Xavi Hernandez switching to a 3-4-3 instead of going with the usual 4-3-3 formation.
The manager also made some changes with the lineup, playing Frenkie de Jong in place of the suspended Sergio Busquets. Rounding out the midfield was Gavi, Pedri and Alejandro Balde who started in place of Jordi Alba.
Another surprise was Ferran Torres getting his first start of the season, rounding out the front three alongside Robert Lewandowski and Dembele.
The back three consisted of Ronald Araujo, Andreas Christensen and Eric Garcia.
The early goal aside, Barcelona did not look too comfortable in the new system. La Real attacked quite heavily down the flanks, which left the defense exposed as they received little to no help from either midfield or any of the forwards tracking back.
Xavi was asked about playing three at the back following the game.
“The change of system was to adapt to Real Sociedad,” Xavi said. “They played with two strikers, and we needed to have one defender left. It was a risk, sure. But we saw how good it can be when the players understand the system, like they did in the second half.”
Ideally, he would have liked to play Jules Kounde in that system but he is still unregistered. Unless Barcelona sign a right-back before the end of the transfer window, expect Xavi to use a 3-4-4 system more often.