Manchester United face Real Sociedad at Old Trafford in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 second leg this evening and will be seeking to confirm their place in Friday’s draw for the round of 16 stage of the competition. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be happy with his side after their last two matches, both wins; 4-0 over the Spanish side in the first leg of the round of 32 and a 3-1 victory over Newcastle United in the Premier League with seven goals scored and one conceded in the last two matches. This came after draws against Everton (3-3) and West Bromwich Albion (1-1). United will need to continue to grind out results and the matches will become tougher as February turns into March with Chelsea and Manchester City in the next three league matches.
This season has not exactly gone to plan for Solskjaer but there is a clear direction that the club are heading in. On Sunday ahead of the Newcastle match, United had scored 241 goals in 128 matches, which has now turned into 244 goals in 129 matches. Jose Mourinho’s United managed to score 244 goals in 144 matches, so Solskjaer’s side have bettered Mourinho’s side’s goalscoring in 15 fewer matches which sees them scoring on average 1.89 goals per match statistically. Granted, United have conceded ten more goals in fewer matches than Mourinho but inn my opinion, they are playing a more exciting brand of football with little of Mourinho’s ‘park the bus’ football, which is a positive. It will take time but United are on the right road to success now.
Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Lindelof, Telles;
Greenwood, Fernandes, James;
De Gea, Grant, Bishop; Maguire, Shaw, Williams, Tuanzebe; Diallo, Galbraith, Shoretire; Rashford
Gorosabel, Zubeldia, Sagnan, Munoz;
Zubimendi, Guevara, Merino;
Januzaj, Isak, Oyarzabal
Marrero, Zeberio; Portu, Guridi, Merquelanz, Monreal, Barrenetxea, Bautista, Lopez, Gonzalez
United and Real Sociedad have met three times in the history of both clubs. The first two meetings happened in the UEFA Champions League during the 2013/14 season whilst David Moyes was managing the club. The meetings happened in the group stages of the competition with United winning the first meeting 1-0, which was played at Old Trafford with the only goal of the game scored by Iñigo Martínez’s own goal. The second group stage match was a 0-0 draw played at the Estadio Anoeta. In the first match, only three players remain at the club; David De Gea and Phil Jones are the only players still at the club and Michael Carrick, who is now on the coaching staff. Jones and De Gea also featured in the second match between the two clubs.
United are undefeated against the Spanish side, winning two matches and drawing the other, scoring one goal and keeping two clean sheets. Real Sociedad have lost just eight competitive matches this season, five in La Liga, one in the Copa del Rey and two in the Europa League. United have lost eight matches this season; four in the Premier League, one in the Carabao Cup and three in the Champions League. Both teams are flying high in their relevant leagues this season, with United in second place and Real Sociedad in fifth also both teams are still in cup competitions; Copa del Rey and the Emirates FA Cup, also featuring in the knockout stages of European competition. United beat the Spanish side 4-0 last week and will be looking to win again.
Written by John Walker