The €14 million recruit from Valencia will begin alongside a familiar looking Barca backline containing Carles Puyol, Javier Mascherano and Dani Alves.
Vilanova will also start Cristian Tello up front alongside Lionel Messi and Pedro, as Andres Iniesta and David Villa take their places on the hosts’ bench.
Meanwhile, Gonzalo Castro makes his debut in attack for Sociedad, linking up with Antoine Griezmann and captain Xabi Prieto in the front three.
Mikel Gonzalez will partner Ion Ansotegi at the back for the visitors, but summer signings Carlos Vela and Jose Angel both have to settle for a place on the bench.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Valdes; Alves, Puyol, Mascherano, Alba; Busquets, Xavi, Fabregas; Pedro, Messi, Tello.
Subs: Pinto, Roberto, Pique, Adriano, Iniesta, Sanchez, Villa.
Real Sociedad (4-3-3): Bravo; Estrada, Ansotegi, Gonzalez, De La Bella; Illarramendi, Elustondo, Bergara; Castro, Griezmann, Prieto.
Subs: Vela, Pargo, Angel, Zubikarai, Ros, Cadamuro, Agirretxe.