FootballManchester United

Reds kick off Europa League versus Real Sociedad

First leg goes at Juventus Stadium on Thursday

Table of Contents

Second chance

Manchester United head to Turin to face Real Sociedad for the first leg of their Round of 32 Europa League clash on Thursday.

The Reds are looking to make the most of their second chance in Europe after being knocked out of the Champions League’s group stage last year.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side is desperate to bring back some glory to United after going without a trophy for three consecutive seasons.

La Reales has never experienced European glory of any kind, and they hope a fresh crop of youngsters can continue to surprise.

Lineup News

The Reds remain without midfielder Paul Pogba with a thigh muscle injury.

Fred will likely take his place in midfield having just made his 100th appearance last week for the Reds.

Phil Jones is unavailable as usual through injury.

Donny van de Beek and Edinson Cavani didn’t travel with the team and won’t play because of muscle injuries.

Solskjaer says Scott McTominay and Anthony Martial are doubtful and will likely need to pass a fitness test before playing.

For Sociedad Mikel Oyarzabal remarkably returned to the lineup last weekend in a 1-0 win over Getafe. He’ll provide a much-needed boost.

Miguel Moya and Lucas Sangalli are long term absentees who won’t be available for Imanol Alguacil’s team.

Carlos Fernandez is also out through injury.

Struggles in Spain

Man United’s not had a great deal of success against teams in La Liga recently.

In their last nine European matches against Spanish opponents, the Reds are winless, including being knocked out by Sevilla in last season’s Europa League semi-finals.

The last time they won against a Spanish team in Europe was in 2016/17 when they beat Celta de Vigo 1-0 in the Europa League semi-final. They went on to win the competition that season, the last triumph for a United side.

United’s played Real Sociedad twice before in the 2013/14 Champions League, winning 1-0 at Old Trafford and drawing 0-0 in San Sebastien.

They won’t have to worry about travelling to Spain as the match is taking place at a neutral site in Italy due to Spain’s COVID restrictions with the UK.

Familiar Faces

By no means is this a rivalry, but some faces on La Reales are very familiar to the Red Devils.

Adnan Januzaj made 50 appearances for Man United from 2013-17. The Belgian’s played 21 times for the San Sebastien side scoring twice.

Man United know David Silva quite well from his time spent with Manchester City playing against the Reds for a decade.

Defender Nacho Monreal used to be a part of Arsenal’s setup before moving to Spain.

Road to the Round of 32

United got here on a technicality.

Failing to qualify out of their Champions’ League group Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side got a reprieve in the Europa League.

The Reds seemed to be in an excellent position to qualify for the Champions League knockout stage winning three of their first four games including a 5-0 thumping against RB Leipzig.

They faltered down the stretch though losing 3-1 to PSG and 3-2 to Leipzig to come in third.

For Imanol Alguacil’s side, they finished second behind Napoli in their Europa League group.

La Reales narrowly beat out Dutch side Az Alkmaar for second place.

Trying Times

La Reales may not have the high-priced talent of Man United, but boy do they try hard.

In fact, in the Europa League’s last round Sociedad was second among all teams in total attempts with 111.

Speaking of trying former Man United midfielder Adnan Junuzaj did a lot of that in his side’s Europa League round-robin matches. The Belgian tried to get past his opponents on many occasions with 35 take-ons in the opposition half. That was second only to Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe in the group stage.

This Spanish side has a lot of local talent who are very familiar with each other. The first team has 16 academy graduates in the squad. Only four members of the current squad are not Spanish.

They are organised, well-drilled and have a lot of chemistry out of the pitch.

European Form

Two of Man United’s key men in attack seem to relish playing in Europe.

Bruno Fernandes was the top goalscorer in the Europa League last season with eight goals.

He got four in the Champions’ League group stage for the Reds.

Marcus Rashford led all Champions League players in scoring in the group stage with six. He was second in attempts with 12.


Real Sociedad doesn’t fear a challenge and United can expect to see plenty of challenges in the middle of the park.

La Reales average 2.2 bookings a game with 51 in their last 23 matches.

Given how explosive and dynamic United’s midfield is you can bet Bruno Fernandes will see his share of tackles. That may be the best way to slow down a United midfield that is quicker, and more skilful than La Reales.

Managers Words

Before tomorrow’s match United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said his side couldn’t afford to make mistakes against a team like Real Sociedad.

“You’ve got to be very good against Sociedad. As I said when the draw was made, it’s probably the hardest you could pick from our unseeded group.”

“They have got some top players, some very experienced players and some very good ones. So, we have to play at a high level to get a good result, of course, we do because the Spanish league is also a quality one.”

Match Info

Thursday’s match from Juventus Stadium in Italy kicks off at 5:55 pm. (JSL).

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