David Moyes: How Real Sociedad boss beat Barcelona

5th January, 2015 12:46:41 printer

David Moyes: How Real Sociedad boss beat Barcelona

Xavi Hernandez congratulates Moyes on his biggest win yet as Sociedad manager

Within five minutes of Real Sociedad's 1-0 win over Barcelona on Sunday night, Spanish broadcasters Canal Plus had given victorious boss David Moyes a rather predictable epithet: 'Braveheart'.
His team's performance was certainly full of that particular quality as they defended with unshakeable resolve to repel Barca's superstars following an early own goal from Jordi Alba. They maintained their clean sheet with a series of blocks, clearances and tackles to give the Scotsman his first major scalp since taking over at the Anoeta in November.
But this victory was about far more than just bravery, and the result serves to further cement the widespread perception that Moyes is already doing a great job of making his talented, but previously somewhat flaky squad a far more durable and organised outfit.
Moyes had prepared for the game by seriously talking up his team's chances of winning, and La Real certainly appeared to have taken his positive outlook on board as they opened the encounter at breakneck pace, immediately forcing Barca onto the back foot and winning a pair of early corners, the second of which led to the opening goal.
The cross which Alba helplessly diverted into his own net was deliciously delivered by classy midfielder Sergio Canales, and his selection was one of the big decisions that Moyes got right on the night.
The former Real Madrid and Valencia man has always been a fabulously talented performer but too often he has failed to show it, hence his departure from those two bigger clubs after largely disappointing spells.
Moyes must have been tempted to leave such an unpredictable player on the bench, but instead he placed his trust in Canales and was amply rewarded - not just with the cross for the goal, but also with a performance full of skilful endeavour from a man who has not always been noted for his work-rate.
Another selection success was young Argentine goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli, who had previously only started one game in La Liga after a summer move from Estudiantes.
Despite his frightening lack of experience, 22 year-old Rulli looked undaunted and played a major role in his team's victory, especially in the final stages when he twice superbly denied Luis Suarez, firstly nicking the ball off the Uruguayan's toes as he raced into the area and then with a reflex stop from a powerful header.
Rather than individual brilliance, however, Real Sociedad's victory was down to a tremendous effort of collective defensive organisation and hard work. These were exactly the qualities the club's president Jokin Aperribay had been looking for when he hired the former Everton and Manchester United boss a few weeks ago.
Aperribay and the club's fans certainly don't have any regrets about the appointment right now.
Without wishing to underplay the achievement of Moyes' team, however, it should be noted their victory was not an enormous surprise when you consider they had already beaten both Real and Atletico Madrid at home earlier in the season.
Furthermore, La Real have now defeated Barca at the Anoeta three seasons in a row and Luis Enrique's men came into the game struggling for form on their travels, having drawn 0-0 at lowly Getafe in their previous away game. And the Catalan club started this encounter with Lionel Messi and Neymar - who have accounted for nearly two-thirds of their La Liga goals this season - both on the bench.

Top