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Closing it out
Manchester United can advance to the last 16 of the Europa League with a positive result at Old Trafford Thursday.
The Reds already have one foot in the next round after crushing La Reales 4-0 in Turin’s first leg.
Barring an epic collapse, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will likely move on.
With a comfortable 4-0 cushion, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can afford to rest some key players if he wants to.
The only players who won’t see action are Paul Pogba and Phil Jones, who are still nursing thigh and knee injuries, respectively.
There’s still plenty of doubt about the fitness of Scott McTominay, Donny van de Beek, and Edinson Cavani.
Youngsters Amad Diallo and Shola Shoretire will be in the squad though Solskjaer says they probably won’t start.
For Sociedad centre-back, Robin Le Normand is out through suspension while Luca Sangalli has a knee injury.
Look for Andoni Gorosabel and Modibo Sagnan to take their spots in central defence.
Starting a winning streak
Even though a loss will likely still see them through, Man United will want to start a winning streak.
They’ve struggled to do that, having not won three consecutive games in all competitions since December.
Their longest winning streak this season across all competitions is four.
Sociedad has won two straight games in La Liga, keeping clean sheets against Getafe and Alaves.
Three in one
One player who’s made the most of his appearances for the Reds this season is Daniel James.
The Welsh striker has three goals and an assist in his last three appearances across all competitions.
His 57th-minute strike against Newcastle last weekend was the earliest he’s scored for the Reds, with the others all coming in injury time.
It’s no secret that Sociedad needs many things to go right to advance, but they know from recent matches it can be done.
This past weekend a hat-trick by Alexander Isak gave La Reales a 4-0 win over Alaves.
Imanol Alguacil’s side needs a repeat performance if they want to have any hope of reversing their current deficit.
The young Sociedad squad will look for inspiration from former Manchester City fan favourite David Silva. The Spaniard enjoyed plenty of success at Old Trafford with six wins in eight prior visits. He had a direct hand in five of City’s goals in those games.
No player in the top five European leagues has more away victories at the Theatre of Dreams than Silva.
Home Field Advantage/disadvantage
Manchester United will be happy they have such a big lead heading home as they’ve not fared well at Old Trafford against Spanish teams.
The Reds have just one win in their last nine matches against teams in La Liga. However, that one win came against Real Sociedad in the 2013-14 Champions’ League group stage.
As bad as United’s fared at times in league play at Old Trafford, they’ve thrived when playing on home soil in the Europa League.
The Red Devils are unbeaten in 14 consecutive Europa League matches at Old Trafford.
Real Sociedad don’t have a lot of experience playing in England, but it’s been anything but memorable when they have.
The first time they played an English side in a European competition, La Reales got trounced 6-0 by Liverpool at Anfield in the 1975-76 UEFA Cup. In their second game at Old Trafford, they lost 1-0 to Man United in the 2013-14 Champions League.
On a roll
Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes is always a player to watch, and his game seems to be at its very best in the Europa League.
Since his debut in this competition in 2018, the Portuguese midfielder has more goal involvements in the Europa League than any player.
He’s got nine goals for Man United in the European competition this season.
Not to be outdone Real Sociedad have a pair of strikers that are on quite the roll.
Alexander Isak’s weekend hat-trick gave him 12 on the season in La Liga.
The Swede is on a tear at the moment with eight goals in his last five Spanish league games.
Meanwhile, Spanish striker Mikel Oyarzabel has four goals in his last five La Liga fixtures.
Imanol Alguacil will be counting on both strikers to let loose with more goals on Thursday.
Thursday’s match from Old Trafford goes at 8 pm. (JSL).