Thee 61-year-old, who replaced Ernesto Valverde in January, had come under fire after last weekend's El Clasico defeat to Real Madrid, with reports in the Catalan media suggesting he had lost the support of the dressing room.
Sociedad posed a difficult test for Barca, buoyed by reaching the Copa Del Rey final in midweek, and Setien's side had to wait until the 81st minute for a winner at the Nou Camp.
Messi stepped up to slot home from the spot after Robin Le Normand was adjudged by the video assistant referee to have handled in the area.
Victory sent Barcelona back to the LaLiga summit, two points clear of Real ahead of their trip to Real Betis on Sunday. Relive all the action below:
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Setien rejects speculation over dressing room unrest
I don't know what the basis is for saying we don't have control of the dressing room.
We are delighted with the dressing room we have found here. There are no problems.
I thought it would be more difficult than it is. The players accept everything (asked of them) with an extraordinary attitude.
Some (players) are convinced (by you) quicker, others can take longer. That's part of life and my job: earning their confidence and transmitting to them that my knowledge can help.
Everything happening is normal and maybe you (the media) are looking for more than there is, but there's nothing there.
Barcelona predicted lineup
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, De Jong, Vidal; Messi, Griezmann.
Real Sociedad predicted line-up
Real Sociedad: Remiro; Gorosabel, Le Normand, Zubeldia, Aihen; Sangalli, Guevara, Odegaard; Portu, Isak, Oyarzabal
Barcelona coach Quique Setien has revealed he has apologised to the players and everyone at the club for the exuberant behaviour of his assistant coach Eder Sarabia on the touchline during last week’s 2-0 defeat by Real Madrid.
Sarabia was a little-known figure until Spanish television show Vamos broadcast images of his reactions from the dugout during Sunday’s ‘Clasico’, using a lip-reader to reveal some of the disparaging comments he made about his side’s players.
The assistant coach was seen criticising Antoine Griezmann for failing to convert one of his chances and repeatedly used foul language in response to Barca’s performance during the game.
Spanish media reports said the footage had not gone down well among Barca’s players and Setien said he had told his assistant that he needed to consider his touchline antics.
Setien defends assistant Sarabia
The only thing he did wrong, which I didn't like, was the way in which he expressed himself.
I love the character and the temperament he has, that doesn't worry me. What concerns me is the way it was done.
We have apologised (to the club and the players) for a series of words that should not be used when you represent a club like this.
We are obliged to manage the way we do things because there are many kids watching us, so we have to be careful.
It was Narcís de Carreras, a lawyer with close ties to the Catalan Regionalist League, who coined Barcelona’s iconic slogan, selling line and soporific cliché: Mes que un club. The late club president is, of course, of no relation to Jeffrey Wright’s eponymous Dr Valentin, but then the modern Barcelona boasts all the division, distrust, and necessary evil to rival an East Coast cartel.
Rarely has a motto touted so religiously stood for so little. “More than a club because we feel that such values as humility, ambition, effort, teamwork and respect are just as important a part of the way we play as winning,” reads a sleek doctrine on the club’s website. Yet, Barcelona head into Sunday’s Clasico against Real Madrid having charged from dispute to accusation and internal catastrophe to public scandal.
In the last weeks alone, Josep Maria Bartomeu, the club’s 40th president, has been forced to deny paying a social media firm nearly €1 million to discredit Barcelona’s own players, and rivals to his presidency, on social media. Well, they paid, he accepted, just not for those posts. Gerard Pique, one of those targeted in the tweets, responded by calling a journalist defending Bartomeu a “puppet”. Lionel Messi, with typical reticence, described it as “a bit weird”.
A glimpse at the Barcelona dressing room
Braithwaite lauds 'best passer' Messi
I just have to play my game. I like to make good runs and I have the best passer in the world, so for me, it's really easy.
Setien unconcerned by Messi's dry spell
"I don't care that he didn't score recently. If he scored it would be better, but it has never bothered me," Setien said, with the Argentine failing to score in six of his last seven games.
"It could happen to Leo or anyone. He is having chances and that is the important thing, that chances are generated.
"He has been scoring goals for 14 years, if he now has a period in which he scores less it is not important."
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, De Jong; Braithwaite, Messi, Griezmann
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