Manchester United – Real Sociedad | 08/09/2022 EUROPA LEAGUE

Fresh from ending Arsenal’s perfect start to the season, Manchester United begin their Europa League campaign in Group E versus Real Sociedad at Old Trafford on Thursday night. The Red Devils saw off their capital counterparts 3-1 at the weekend, while their Spanish visitors claimed a point from a 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid in La Liga.

Whilst a 3-1 weekend win over Arsenal marked Manchester United’s fourth successive Premier League (PL) victory, the reality of their recent struggles over the last few years becomes apparent as the fallen giants embark on their third UEFA Europa League (UEL) campaign in five seasons. However, safe in the knowledge that winning this competition provides an alternative route back into the prestigious UEFA Champions League (UCL), United may prove menacing for Real Sociedad.

The Red Devils defeated Sociedad 4-0 on aggregate in the knockout stages of this competition in 2020/21, although they hold a mixed UEL record against Spanish sides (W4, D2, L4). Their recent resurgence in the PL might mean that indifferent record counts for little, but the pressures of a packed schedule, as well as a mounting injury list, may see manager Erik ten Hag ring the changes here, which could signal a start for Cristiano Ronaldo – who won’t be appearing in the UCL for the first time since 2002/03.

Sociedad president Jokin Aperribay stated that United represented part of ‘’the worst possible draw’’ in the competition. However, with former Manchester City star David Silva pulling the Sociedad strings in midfield, the White and Blues may hold the necessary quality to trouble their opponents, evidenced by their strong recent away form after stringing together successive 1-0 La Liga (LL) away victories to start their campaign.

Imanol Alguacil’s side are experienced in this competition too, having participated in three of the last four UEL editions – advancing out of the group stages in two of them. Sociedad’s experience hasn’t aided their travelling form though, winning just one of their last seven UEL away games (D5, L1), meaning the visitors’ hopes perhaps lie with their defensive resilience as all but one of their 11 victories in this competition since 2014 (inc. qualifiers) have come ‘to nil’!

Date: 08/09/2022
Time: 22:00
Venue: Old Trafford (Manchester)
Pick for this match:
“1” – @ 1.74 ( BETWAY )

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