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Ratings: Matic MOTM with Henderson, James, Lindelof, Bailly and Tuanzebe doing well; Diallo home debut and Shoretire made mark in history

Manchester United drew 0-0 with Real Sociedad at Old Trafford in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 second leg. United’s four goals in the first leg saw them through to the round of 16 in the competition. Bruno Fernandes almost scored in the first half and Axel Tuanzebe found the back of the net with a thundering header in the 63rd minute of the match but because of a Victor Lindelof foul, VAR and the referee ruled out the goal, which was a shame for the defender. Amad Diallo made his home debut with Shola Shoretire becoming the youngest United player to feature in European competition, which will be something for him to be proud of. United will find out their fate in the competition on Friday as the round of 16 draw is made.

United started well but the Spanish side has set themselves up a little differently, cautiously if you will. The away side won a penalty in the 13th minute of the match after Daniel James supposedly fouled Andoni Gorosabel inside the box but it seemed like the player stopped his run, putting his leg across James to force the foul. Mikel Oyarzabal took the penalty with Dean Henderson looking to make the dive, stopping it and watching the ball rise into the Stretford End. United almost took the lead in the 24th minute of the match but Bruno Fernandes could not place the ball into the back of the net. United have done enough to win the tie though with four goals scored in the away leg, played in Turin, last week.

In the 35th minute of the match, Fernandes played the ball into James, who was running into the box. The Welshman played his header towards goal but the goalkeeper made a precise save to deny the Welshman from his third goal in three consecutive matches. Fred was booked in the 40th minute of the match for a foul on Adnan Januzaj, giving away a free-kick which United regained possession from. United were unlucky in the first half and should have perhaps scored at least one goal, which is the same that could be said for the visitors, who scuffed up a good penalty. United were still winning 4-0 on aggregate and will be aiming to ensure they are in Friday’s draw for the round of 16 stage of the competition.

Solskjaer made a triple substitution at the start of the second half with Marcus Rashford replacing Bruno Fernandes, Axel Tuanzebe replacing Fred and Brandon Williams replacing Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Almost four minutes into the half, Real Sociedad attempted to score, beating Henderson but not finding the back of the net. Williams became United’s second player to be booked in the match with Fred booked in the 40th minute of the first half and the right-back booked in the 49th minute. Minuted later, he fouled an opposition player once again, not getting a second booking this time. He will perhaps need to tread carefully or face being sent off this evening, which would be a lowly occasion for him.

Solskjaer made his fourth substitution in the 59th minute of the match with Amad Diallo replacing Daniel James, who had seemingly got himself a knock, which hopefully is not anything serious. United opened the scoring in the 63rd minute of the match through Axel Tuanzebe, whose header thundered into the back of the net. However, VAR looked at the incident between Victor Lindelof and Jon Bautista in which the Swede jumped up to reach the ball and collided with the Real Sociedad player, right in the face. The goal was disallowed, which was a shame for Tuanzebe and Lindelof was booked for the foul. United attempted to get a goal minutes later with Anthony Martial on the attack but nothing came of it and United were back to the drawing board.

United made their fifth substitution in the 76th minute of the match with Shola Shoretire becoming the youngest player to play for United in European competition. He replaced Mason Greenwood. United kept on trying to find a goal, which was not coming, unfortunately. Some will find some negativity from that, despite United being 4-0 up on aggregate from the first leg and the Spanish side not seeking to get a goal themselves. Perhaps keeping a clean sheet at Old Trafford will be something for the opposition to be proud of? Diallo and Shoretire got stuck into the game but expecting a lot from them is not what we need to be doing right now. They both need to find their feet inn the squad and work from there.

Manchester United

26 Dean Henderson

Had very little to do other than the penalty, which was not on target anyway. He was very vocal in the box, which was good to hear as De Gea never really gets vocal, which should be something that comes from the goalkeeper, just like Schmeichel and Van der Sar. He will be pleased with another clean sheet and a result which puts United into the round of 16 in the competition.

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29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Played well in the first half and supported United's attacking as they looked to seal the victory. He was replaced by Williams at the start of the second half.

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3 Eric Bailly

Good to see him back in the team. He played well but showed his mad side, getting involved in things like tracking a player, which sometimes saw Lindelof in a bit of trouble. However, United rose the danger and maintained their clean sheet over the two legs, getting the result they needed, which was obtained a week ago.

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2 Victor Lindelof

Did everything he needed to do and seemed more confident without Maguire, which might be a fluke. Defended well and broke forward at times. He was booked for a challenge with resulted in Tuanzebe scoring a thundering header, which was eventually ruled out by VAR with him being booked for the foul.

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27 Alex Telles

Did what he needed to do in the left-back role for United. Was never really tested defensively. Played a part going forward and showed his crossing ability a few times. A good performance in a dead rubber match.

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31 Nemanja Matic

His work rate was top notch once again as he looked to support his teammates both defensively, when that was needed and in attack. He was forward for a lot of the match and played his part immensely. He should be proud of his performance, which some will probably slate him for, seemingly affixed on his age not what he did.

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17 Fred

Did what he needed to do in the midfield and almost goat another goal under his belt in the first half of the match. He was replaced by Tuanzebe at the start of the second half.

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11 Mason Greenwood

Did well for United, despite not finding any goals for his club. Did what he needed to do and broke forward a lot of the time with the Spanish side defending to limit the damage, despite being out of the competition if they don't score four goals. He was replaced by Shoretire in the 76th minute of the match.

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18 Bruno Fernandes

Was the player to watch in the first half as he tried to get United ahead. He played his part but was replaced by Rashford at the start of the second half.

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21 Daniel James

Gave away an early penalty but it did not seem like a foul as the player stopped his run and put his leg across James. Oyarzabal missed the penalty, so there was a bit of luck in it for the Welshman. He was replaced by Diallo in the 59th minute of the match and seemed to get a knock, which hopefully won't see him added to the injury list ahead of Sunday's trip to Chelsea.

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9 Anthony Martial

Got forward a lot of the time but only really threatened once, which never resulted in a goal being scored. He really needs to start figuring out why his form is so poor at this time. He should be taking these matches by the scruff of the net and showing his ability, which at this time seems devoid of anything positive.

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Substitutes

33 Brandon Williams

Replaced Wan-Bissaka 46'. Booked in his fourth minute on the pitch, then committed another foul minutes later. He needs to keep his head tonight.

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38 Axel Tuanzebe

Replaced Fred 46'. Scored in the 63rd minute of the match with a thundering header. Lindelof fouled an opposition player in the box and the goal was ruled out by VAR, which was a shame.

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10 Marcus Rashford

Replaced Fernandes 46'. Played his part in the match and played some good balls forward, which did not come to fruition for United. Will feel somewhat rested ahead of Sunday's match. Hopefully, Cavani will be ready to play on Sunday, which will take some pressure off United's attack.

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19 Amad Diallo

Replaced James 59'. Showed his pace and ability on the ball in his 30 minutes or so against the Spanish side.

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74 Shola Shoretire

Replaced Greenwood 76'. Became the youngest player to feature for United in European competition. He is in good company in that respect.

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Goals: N/A

Assists: N/A

Manchester United: Henderson; Wan-Bissaka (Williams 46′), Bailly, Lindelof, Telles; Matic, Fred (Tuanzebe 46′); Greenwood (Shoretire 76′), Fernandes (Rashford 46′), James (Diallo 59′); Martial

Substitutes Not Used: De Gea, Grant, Bishop; Maguire, Shaw; Galbraith

Bookings: Fred 40′, Brandon Williams 49′, Victor Lindelof 65′

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: Martial, Greenwood, Fernandes and James lead the line against Real Sociedad; Bailly back, Matic and Fred in midfield

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.

Manchester United:

Henderson;

Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Lindelof, Telles;

Matic, Fred;

Greenwood, Fernandes, James;

Martial

Substitutes:

De Gea, Grant, Bishop; Maguire, Shaw, Williams, Tuanzebe; Diallo, Galbraith, Shoretire; Rashford

Real Sociedad:

Remiro

Gorosabel, Zubeldia, Sagnan, Munoz;

Zubimendi, Guevara, Merino;

Januzaj, Isak, Oyarzabal

Substitutes:

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

Predicted XI: [4-2-3-1] Galbraith and Diallo to start with Greenwood leading the line; Shoretire on the bench with Solskjaer resting many stars?

Manchester United face Real Sociedad at Old Trafford in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 second leg on Thursday 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.

How United have faired against Real Sociedad in European competition.

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.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face Real Sociedad in the UEFA Europa League at Old Trafford on Thursday evening…

Goalkeeper: Dean Henderson

The 23-year-old clearly deserves some more opportunities in goal for United this season, in the Premier League too. If he’s not playing regularly, he’s not going to develop. I tend to ignore all the media rumours, unless I feel the need to give an opinion, which may allow people to see things in a different angle. It is rare that journalists print the truth, especially when rumours are rife, especially when concerning a player at Manchester United. Henderson have appeared just 12 times this season, largely playing in the cup competitions. In those 12 appearances, he has conceded nine goals, keeping seven clean sheets. There is ability in the player and I feel he should be tested more against a better quality of team, which will give more of an indication about him.

Defenders: Brandon Williams, Axel Tuanzebe, Eric Bailly, Alex Telles

United can afford to change the defence in this match, providing all of the players work together to get the job done. United won 4-0 in the first leg, scoring four away goals. Keeping a clean sheet or limiting the Spanish side to just one goal will be the key here. Of course, United scoring a goal or two will change the outcome of the match the United should aim for that first. Brandon Williams and Alex Telles should feature in the fullback positions with Axel Tuanzebe and Eric Bailly partnering in the centre of defence. It will give Bailly more game time this season, the same for Tuanzebe, who has all the ingredients to rise to the challenge, despite being unfortunate a few times. Harry Maguire could get a break ahead of the Chelsea match.

Midfield: Fred, Ethan Galbraith

United have Paul Pogba, Donny van de Beek and Scott McTominay on the sidelines for this match so Solskjaer will have just Fred and Nemanja Matic to field against the Spanish side. Ethan Galbraith has been added to the squad, so I think he should start against Real Sociedad. He could get a great match under his belt in the first team and give Solskjaer something to think about for the future. Of course, the like of Hannibal Mejbri would have been involved if he was fit, which is a shame. Perhaps we can see more of him at some point before the end of the season. Fred should start with Galbraith, giving him some experience and ability alongside him. Matic could be called from the bench, should he be needed.

Attacking Midfield: Amad Diallo, Juan Mata, Daniel James

I would expect the likes of Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes to be rested for this match, but on the bench just in case they are needed, which is always apossibility. I would like to see Amad Diallo, Juan Mata and Daniel James start in the three behind the striker. Mata deserves some more game time this season and in the number ten role, he could inspire this youthful team to achieve something with his footballing brain and ability for a pass. James has scored in his last two matches, so this would be a good match to continue his good form. Diallo made his debut from the bench a week ago which was good for him, be starting in this match with the majority of the pressure off the squad, would be a good time. He might just shock everyone?

Forwards: Mason Greenwood

Anthony Martial is in poor form and that does not seem to be getting any better. He started at the weekend but offered very little as United beat Newcastle United 3-1 at Old Trafford. Edinson Cavani has also been ruled out of this match, seemingly saving him for Chelsea on Sunday and with Rashford likely to get a rest, albeit on the bench, this should give Mason Greenwood the chance to lead the line in the European competition which could see him kickstart his good form once again. He has already scored four goals and five assists already this season and will be looking to at least match his tally from last season, which saw him end the 2019/20 season on 17 goals and five assists for the first team, scoring two more goals at U21 and U23 level.

Substitutes: David De Gea, Lee Grant; Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, Aaron Wan-Bissaka; Bruno Fernandes, Nemanja Matic, Shola Shoretire; Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford

United will have eleven players named on the bench with Solskjaer able to call on five of them during the course of the match. David De Gea and Lee Grant could be on the bench to make up the numbers, with five players on the sidelines though injury and fitness issues. In defence, the experience of Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka could be key, should they be needed during the match. In midfield, Bruno Fernandes, Nemanja Matic and Shola Shoretire could all play a part with the 17-year-old making his debut in the Premier League from the bench at the weekend. In attack, the experience of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford will be there to be called upon should United need to do something to secure the win.

Written by John Walker

Preview: Diallo, Shoretire and Galbraith to feature against the Basque side with United 4-0 up after the first leg? United to secure their place?

Manchester United -v- Real Sociedad

UEFA Europa League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Thursday 25 February 2021, KO 20:00 GMT

Referee: Lawrence Visser Assistants: Thibaud Nijssen, Rien Vanyzere

Fourth Official: Allard Lindhout

VAR: Kevin Blom Assistant VAR: Jochem Kamphuis

Manchester United face Real Sociedad at Old Trafford in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 second leg on Thursday 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.

Manchester United: WWDWDW

Newcastle United 3-1 W, Real Sociedad 4-0 W, West Bromwich Albion 1-1 D, West Ham United 1-0 W, Everton 3-3 D, Southampton 9-0 W

Real Sociedad: WLWWDL

Deportivo Alaves 4-0 W, Manchester United 4-0 L, Getafe CF 1-0 W, Cádiz CF 4-1 W, Villarreal CF 1-1 D, Real Betis 3-1 L

Top Scorers: 22 goals for Bruno Fernandes with Marcus Rashford scoring 18 – Alexander Isak has 12 goals after his recent hat-trick with Mikel Ouarzabal scoring ten times this season.

Manchester United Goals: 22 – Bruno Fernandes, 18 – Marcus Rashford, 7 – Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial, Scott McTominay, 5 – Daniel James, 4 – Mason Greenwood, Paul Pogba, 2 – Harry Maguire, Juan Mata, Own Goal, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 1 – Victor Lindelof, Donny van de Beek

United are undefeated in their last six matches with four wins and two draws. Solskjaer’s side have scored 21 goals, conceded five and kept three clean sheets. Bruno Fernandes scored his 22nd goal of the season against Newcastle United with Marcus Rashford scoring his 18th goal in the same match. Daniel James also scored his fifth goal of the season in that match, scoring his fourth against Real Sociedad last week. This match could see United field a side that lacks experience playing together with the 4-0 scoreline in the first leg, which should see some of the fringe players at the club get some more game time. United should have enough strength in the side to get the result they need to put themselves into Friday’s round of 16 draw.

Real Sociedad Goals: 12 – Alexander Isak, 10 – Mikel Oyarzabal, 7 – Portu, 4 – Willian José, 2 – Ander Barrenetxea, Jon Bautista, Adnan Januzaj, Roberto López, Nacho Monreal, 1 – Own Goal, Mikel Merino, David Silva

Real Sociedad have lost two matches in their last six, winning three and also drawing another. They have scored a total of 11 goals and conceding nine goals in the same six matches. The defeat to United last week is the biggest they have had in those six matches and resulted in them beat Deportivo Alves 4-0 in La Liga at the weekend, a match which saw United loanee Facundo Pellistri make an appearance. The Spanish side still sit fifth in La Liga 14 points from leaders Atletico Madrid, who top the league by three points having a game inn hand over second-placed Real Madrid. The Spanish side may arrive at the Theatre of Dreams thinking about overcoming a 4-0 defeat in the first leg but it seems unlikely that they could do that.

Team News: Amad Diallo and Shola Shoretire continue to be involved in United’s squad with five players out of action through injury and other issues. Real Sociedad will be missing three players, two through injury and one through suspension.

Phil Jones (knee) and Paul Pogba (thigh) have both been ruled out of featuring for United for the foreseeable future. Pogba has been training recently but is not considered fit enough to feature for United in this match. Edinson Cavani, Donny van de Beek and Scott McTominay also look set to remain on the sidelines for this fixture, presumably being saved for the weekend’s Premier League clash with Chelsea, which is the bigger match of the two. Hannibal Mejbri might have been a player considered with United’s midfield depleted at this time, but he too is injured for about a month. Amad Diallo and Shola Shoretire will both be involved in this match but Solskjaer has not given any indication as to whether they will start or be on the bench.

Luca Sangalli (knee) will be out of action until at least December. Aritz Elustondo was injured in the warmup in the first leg despite being named on the team sheet. He did not feature against Deportivo Alaves at the weekend so could miss the return leg of this fixture. Robin Le Normand replaced Elustondo but he will miss this match through suspension. Adnan Januzaj could feature against his former club for the second time. He came off the bench at the weekend, so could be fit to start. David Silva, formerly of Manchester City could feature against United once more. The Basque side may be 4-0 down but with the fact that United might name a weakened side, plus the injuries, there could be a chance for them to get back into the tie.

Predicted Starting XI: Amad Diallo, Ethan Galbraith and Shola Shoretire to have some involvement against Real Sociedad at Old Trafford on Thursday evening?

Solskjaer has Jones, Pogba, Cavani, Van de Beek and McTominay on the sidelines and will need to think about Sunday’s clash with Chelsea, who are in better form under the management of Thomas Tuchel than they were under Frank Lampard. United could field a team capable of getting a good result and rest a number of key players for Sunday, which at this stage would be a win/win scenario. Dean Henderson should start inn goal with Brandon Williams, Axel Tuanzebe, Eric Bailly and Alex Telles all starting in defence, Fred and Ethan Galbraith could start in a two-man midfield with Adam Diallo, Juan Mata and Daniel James playing in the three behind the striker, which for this match should be Mason Greenwood. Obviously, there will be talent on the bench.

Match Prediction: Three meetings between United and Real Sociedad with United winning twice and drawing once, continuing their unbeaten run against the Spanish side. Can United win again, maintaining their record?

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.

Manchester United 3-0 Real Sociedad

Written by John Walker

Ratings: Fernandes MOTM with brace against Real Sociedad; Rashford and James also scored; Diallo made his debut in Europa League victory

Manchester United beat Real Sociedad 4-0 in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 first leg at the Juventus Stadium in Turin ons Thursday evening. United opened the scoring through Bruno Fernandes in the 27th minute of the match with the Portuguese midfielder scoring his second goal of the match in the 57th minute. Marcus Rashford scored United’s third goal in the 65th minute of the match with Daniel James finding the back of the net minutes later, but he was offside. The Welshman did get another chance, getting the fourth goal of the match in the 90th minute to complete the scoring for United, giving Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side a great chance to make it to the round of 16 stage of the competition.

This was a match where both teams started well with Adnan Januzaj having a shot on goal which just missed the target in the opening few minutes with Marcus Rashford also having a chance before the Spanish side registered their second shot of the match. At that stage, United started to get the Lion’s share of possession. Eric Bailly did not have the best of starts for United, after sitting out the last few matches, which obviously left him a bit rusty. Scott McTominay had a good shot on goal around the 15 minute mark of the march, which was blocked by the goalkeeper. Rashford had another shot on goal in the 18th minute of the match, which was kept in play resulting in Bruno Fernandes having a chance too, which was cleared off the line.

United took the lead in the 27th minute of the match after Rashford lofted the ball into the area which saw goalkeeper Alejandro Remiro, Igor Zubeldia and Robin Le Normand collide in the box with the ball then falling to Fernandes after touching one of the trio. The Portuguese midfielder then scored his 20th goal of the season, which was also his 32nd goal for the club since signing in January 2020. In total, Fernandes has contributed 52 goals, assisting 20 times since arriving in Manchester. What a great signing he has become. United had a few more chances, which never came to anything. It was becoming another good match for United but they will need to score a second goal, otherwise the second half could become fraught.

United doubled their lead in the 57th minute of the match with Fernandes scoring his second goal of the match, his 21st of the season. Rashford played the ball into the box with Fernandes and Daniel James waiting. Fernandes then sent the ball into the back of the net. The linesman raised the flag for offside but VAR gave the goal. Rashford then scored his 17th goal fo the season in the 65th minute after he made a perfectly timed run after Fred launched the ball from United’s half of the pitch. It was a good finish for Rashford, who was not on the ball with his chances in the first half of the match. United did score another goal through James, who finished superbly but he was offside, which was a shame. United have killed the match off, which is a good sign.

United were playing well in the second half of the match and managed to get some rest for Scott McTominay, who was replaced by Nemanja Matic in the 60th minute of the match, Marcus Rashford, who was replaced by Anthony Martial in the 65th minute of the match, Fernandes, who was replaced by Juan Mata in the 83rd minute of the match and Mason Greenwood, who was replaced by Amad Diallo in the 83rd minute of the match. United managed to scored a fourth goal in the match with Daniel James getting on the scoresheet following his offside earlier in the half. The Welshman darted down the right flank, having no passing options so decided to go straight for goal from the tightest of angles, nutmegging the goalkeeper who has denied United a few times.

United will have at least one foot inn the door to the round of 16 stage of the competition after the 4-0 victory. It showed signs of their victory over LASK in March last season which saw United 5-0 up in the first leg only to see the coronavirus pandemic stop the season for around three months with the Europa League being played out in August. Solskjaer will not have his focus on Newcastle United coming to Old Trafford on Sunday with the club ten points adrift of Manchester City in the Premier League. It was good to see Diallo come on and with the scoreline what it was, perhaps he can start in the second leg at Old Trafford where he could get himself on the scoresheet?

Manchester United

26 Dean Henderson

Made a few good saves in the first half of the match to deny Real Sociedad. Kept a clean sheet in his first match in the Europa League, which will put him in good stead to take on De Gea for the number one shirt at the club. He will be well pleased with the clean sheet and the victory.

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29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Played a good game for United, getting forward a lot of the time with United in the driving seat in terms of possession,

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3 Eric Bailly

Did well for United after seeming rusty in the early stages of the match which saw the Spanish side get through on goal a few times. He recovered and helped United keep a clean sheet in their 4-0 victory. Got the assist for James' goal in the 90th minute.

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5 Harry Maguire

Led United well after an early onslaught in defence with mistakes being made, which Henderson recovered the side from. Got forward a few times when United recovered and was ruled offside with a chance on goal. Some give him too much stick. Granted there are some faults but nobody is faultless.

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27 Alex Telles

United were not really pressured in defence after the initial stages of the match. Telles is a great left-back to have at the club and his arrival has coincided with some great form for Luke Shaw. He did what he needed to do and helped get United further up the pitch to find the goals, which eventually came for United.

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17 Fred

Played a good midfield game and did everything he was expected to. Some slate him for not scoring many goals but the goals are coming from other players. Got an assist for Rashford's goal, placing the ball over the top for the striker.

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39 Scott McTominay

Did what he needed to do and added a lot of energy and determination in the midfield. He got forward in the early stages of the match when Real Sociedad were pressuring United. He was replaced by Matic in the 60th minute of the match, giving him a break for Sunday, presumably?

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11 Mason Greenwood

Attacked well for United, which was good to see. He did not seem to have much fear of the Spanish side. Did what he needed to do and it was a shame he could not get on the scoresheet. He was replaced by Diallo in the 83rd minute of the match.

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18 Bruno Fernandes

Scored two goals to put United in the driving seat, scoring in the 27th and 57th minutes of the match. Played a great game in attack and has been involved in 53 goals at the club, scoring 32 and assisting 20. He was replaced by Mata in the 83rd minute of the match.

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21 Daniel James

Played a very energetic game for United. He was unlucky not to get his goal because he was offside minutes after Rashford scored. He did get his goal in the last minute of the match though, which he worked hard to score on his solo run after Bailly played the ball to him.

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10 Marcus Rashford

Missed a few chances in the first half of the match, which was hard to swallow. It seemed it was going to be one of those games for Rashford. However, he started to play a better brand of football in the second half, scoring the third goal in the 65th minute of the match. He was replaced by Martial after he scored.

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Substitutes

31 Nemanja Matic

Replaced McTominay 60'. Came on to hold the midfield and did what he needed to do. United were 2-0 up when he came on, winning 4-0 so he played his part.

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9 Anthony Martial

Replaced Rashford 65'. Came on to give Rashford a rest. Not sure he really did a lot. He needs to find some form this season as he has been left behind as such.

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8 Juan Mata

Replaced Fernandes 83'. Came on with seven minutes left. Helped to keep United on the front foot and attacked a few times.

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19 Amad Diallo

Replaced Greenwood 83'. Great to see him make his debut for United. He could have perhaps came on much sooner with United 3-0 up in the 65th minute. He attacked but was not successful. Maybe he can start in the second leg, which will be good for him?

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Goals: Bruno Fernandes 27′, 57′, Marcus Rashford 65′, Daniel James 90′

Assists: Daniel James 57′, Fred 65′, Eric Bailly 90′

Manchester United: Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Telles; McTominay (Matic 60′), Fred; Greenwood (Diallo 83′), Fernandes (Mata 83′), James; Rashford (Martial 65′)

Substitutes Not Used: De Gea, Grant; Lindelof, Shaw, Williams, Tuanzebe; Shoretire

Bookings: Robin Le Normand 88′; Aaron Wan-Bissaka 8′

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: Henderson, Bailly, Fernandes, James and Rashford start against Real Sociedad; Diallo and Shoretire on the bench

Manchester United return to UEFA Europa League action when they face Real Sociedad at the Juventus Stadium in Turin in the round of 32 first leg this evening. United exited the group stages of the UEFA Champions League back in December, falling into the Europa League and face a tough test against the Spanish side, who sit fifth in the La Liga table this season, 16 points adrift of league leaders Atletico Madrid. United started well in the Champions League with victories over Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig but fell foul to Istanbul Basaksehir in the third match of the group. Weeks later, United beat the Turkish side in the second group match against them, falling foul to both PSG and Leipzig which saw them finish third in the group.

Real Sociedad started in the group stages of the Europa League this season, drawing Napoli, AZ Alkmaar and HNK Rijeka in the group. They beat Rijeka 1-0 in the first group stage match, and were beaten by 1-0 Napoli in the second. Then came a 1-0 win over AZ followed by three draws; one with AZ (0-0), Rijeka (2-2) and Napoli (1-1) which saw the Spanish side reach the round of 32 stage in the competition by finishing in second place in the group – two points behind Napoli who topped the group. It is not great that United are back in the Europa League again this season as the playing matches on a Thursday and a Sunday can upset the balance and United would be better qualifying for the Champions League by finishing in the top four of the Premier League.

Manchester United:

Henderson;

Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Telles;

McTominay, Fred;

Greenwood, Fernandes, James;

Rashford

Substitutes:

De Gea, Grant; Lindelof, Shaw, Williams, Tuanzebe; Mata, Diallo, Matic, Shoretire; Martial

Real Sociedad:

Remiro;

Zaldua, Elustondo, Zubeldia, Monreal;

David Silva, Illarramendi, Merino;

Januzaj, Isak, Oyarzabal

Substitutes:

Larranaga, Portu, Munoz, Guridi, Sagnan, Guevara, Merquelanz, Gorosabel, Barrenetxea, Le Normand, Bautista, Zubimendi

United and Real Sociedad have met twice in the history of both clubs. This 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 one match and drawing the other, scoring one goal and keeping two clean sheets. Real Sociedad have lost just seven competitive matches this season, five in La Liga, one in the Copa del Rey and one 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.

Written by John Walker

Predicted XI: [4-2-3-1] Greenwood, Rashford, Fernandes and Diallo to start against Real Sociedad; Shoretire on the bench, waiting for his chance

Manchester United return to UEFA Europa League action when they face Real Sociedad at the Juventus Stadium in Turin in the round of 32 first leg on Thursday evening. United exited the group stages of the UEFA Champions League back in December, falling into the Europa League and face a tough test against the Spanish side, who sit fifth in the La Liga table this season, 16 points adrift of league leaders Atletico Madrid. United started well in the Champions League with victories over Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig but fell foul to Istanbul Basaksehir in the third match of the group. Weeks later, United beat the Turkish side in the second group match against them, falling foul to both PSG and Leipzig which saw them finish third in the group.

Real Sociedad started in the group stages of the Europa League this season, drawing Napoli, AZ Alkmaar and HNK Rijeka in the group. They beat Rijeka 1-0 in the first group stage match, and were beaten by 1-0 Napoli in the second. Then came a 1-0 win over AZ followed by three draws; one with AZ (0-0), Rijeka (2-2) and Napoli (1-1) which saw the Spanish side reach the round of 32 stage in the competition by finishing in second place in the group – two points behind Napoli who topped the group. It is not great that United are back in the Europa League again this season as the playing matches on a Thursday and a Sunday can upset the balance and United would be better qualifying for the Champions League by finishing in the top four of the Premier League.

How United have faired against Real Sociedad in European competition.

United and Real Sociedad have met twice in the history of both clubs. This 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 one match and drawing the other, scoring one goal and keeping two clean sheets. Real Sociedad have lost just seven competitive matches this season, five in La Liga, one in the Copa del Rey and one 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.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face Real Sociedad in the UEFA Europa League at the Juventus Stadium on Thursday evening…

Goalkeeper: Dean Henderson

Dean Henderson deserves to play more matches for United as the main goalkeeper. The dire form of David De Gea this season is worrying and he does not tend to help himself the majority of the time. Henderson is a rookie compared to De Gea but he has the talent and ability to break through and become the number one goalkeeper for the club. It is a long time since a youth player has come through the ranks and became the number one goalkeeper for the club and that could rest with Henderson in the future. Whilst De Gea plays the majority of matches in the Premier League, Henderson has largely played in the cup competitions. This match being a first leg should see Solskjaer taking a risk and allowing Henderson to carve a future for himself at the club.

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw

United’s defence needs some tweaking to find the best way to get through the current season. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw are both in good form, so should be kept in the team as they offer so much going forward, especially when United are on the attack in pretty dominant in the opposition half. Harry Maguire is a player that has been slated for a lot this season, and despite some calling for hims to be dropped, I feel it would show the weakness in defence even more. Granted, he’s not an outspoken captain or very vocal a lot of the time but he has helped United improve in some areas. Eric Bailly should be back in the team as I believe he can offer more than Victor Lindelof in defence, which could be good for United moving forward.

Midfield: Scott McTominay, Fred

With Paul Pogba injured, United have few options in midfield. Donny van de Beek being out of action through a muscular problem also means that Solskjaer has three options in the central midfield area with is Fred, Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic. For this match, the energy of both Fred and McTominay would be much better in the pivot, if Solskjaer does continue playing the 4-2-3-1 formation. It is a shame that players such as Pogba and Van de Beek will miss this match, as especially for the latter, it would be beneficial for him to get some minutes on the pitch, starting matches, which will allow him to develop some kind of form which is lacking in his progress at the club this season. Donny van de Beek is a wonderful player and needs minutes. Will he get them?

Attacking Midfield: Amad Diallo, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford

Bruno Fernandes has scored 19 goals, assisting a further 12 goals for his club. To be involved in 31 goals so far this season is astonishing. When he’s not on the pitch for United, the club struggles to move forward and grind out results. Even when he’s not in great form, he still has the ability and determination to get stuck in and find something for United. His goal against West Bromwich Albion at the weekend showed just that as he struggled to inspire United for large proportions of the match. Fernandes is normally flanked by Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford, but for this match, Greenwood should be playing further forward with Amad Diallo starting on the right flank for the club, his debut for the first team.

Forwards: Mason Greenwood

Mason Greenwood has the ability, drive and sheer determination succeed at United. He has recently signed a new long-term contract which will see him remain at the club until at least 2025, although there was an option for a further year to be added on. Granted, he has not scored many goals this season, finding the back of the net four times, also assisting a further five times. However, that might be because he has been playing as a winger on the right, rather than a forward, which is his favoured position. With Edinson Cavani out of this match with muscular problems, I feel that Greenwood has much better form than Anthony Martial, who has been terrible lately. Greenwood could well shock the world once again with his ability. He has it in him.

Substitutes: David De Gea, Lee Grant; Victor Lindelof, Alex Telles, Brandon Williams, Axel Tuanzebe; Juan Mata, Daniel James, Nemanja Matic, Shola Shoretire; Anthony Martial

Solskjaer named a 22-man squad for the Europa League clash with Real Sociedad at the Juventus Stadium in Turin ons Thursday evening, meaning 11 players will be on the bench and up to five substitutions can be made during the match. David De Gea and Lee Grant will be on the bench as the other goalkeepers, if Henderson starts. In defence, Victor Lindelof, Alex Telles and Brandon Williams will be available should they be needed. In midfield, Juan Mata, Daniel James, Nemanja Matic and Shola Shoretire, who has been given a chance at first team level inn this competition, could have an impact. In attack, Anthony Martial, who badly needs to up his firm, should be able to be called upon, should United fall short in attack against the Spanish side.

Written by John Walker

Preview: Real Sociedad will be a big test for Manchester United in the Europa League; Diallo and Shoretire to feature?

Real Sociedad -v- Manchester United

UEFA Europa League

Juventus Stadium, Turin, Italy

Thursday 18 February 2021, KO 17:55 GMT

Referee: Sandro Schärer Assistants: Stephane De Almeida, Bekim Zogaj

Fourth Official: Lionel Tschudi

VAR: Paolo Valeri Assistant VAR: Fedayi San

Manchester United return to UEFA Europa League action when they face Real Sociedad at the Juventus Stadium in Turin in the round of 32 first leg on Thursday evening. United exited the group stages of the UEFA Champions League back in December, falling into the Europa League and face a tough test against the Spanish side, who sit fifth in the La Liga table this season, 16 points adrift of league leaders Atletico Madrid. United started well in the Champions League with victories over Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig but fell foul to Istanbul Basaksehir in the third match of the group. Weeks later, United beat the Turkish side in the second group match against them, falling foul to both PSG and Leipzig which saw them finish third in the group.

Real Sociedad started in the group stages of the Europa League this season, drawing Napoli, AZ Alkmaar and HNK Rijeka in the group. They beat Rijeka 1-0 in the first group stage match, and were beaten by 1-0 Napoli in the second. Then came a 1-0 win over AZ followed by three draws; one with AZ (0-0), Rijeka (2-2) and Napoli (1-1) which saw the Spanish side reach the round of 32 stage in the competition by finishing in second place in the group – two points behind Napoli who topped the group. It is not great that United are back in the Europa League again this season as the playing matches on a Thursday and a Sunday can upset the balance and United would be better qualifying for the Champions League by finishing in the top four of the Premier League.

Manchester United: DWDWDL

West Bromwich Albion 1-1 D, West Ham United 1-0 W, Everton 3-3 D, Southampton 9-0 W, Arsenal 0-0 D, Sheffield United 1-2 L

Real Sociedad: WWDLDW

Getafe CF 1-0 W, Cádiz CF 4-1 W, Villarreal CF1-1 D, Real Betis 3-1 L, Real Betis 2-2 D, Córdoba CF 2-0 W

Top Scorers: Bruno Fernandes has 19 goals for United this season with Real Sociedad’s top scorer, Mikel Oyarzabal having only ten goals to his name this season.

Manchester United Goals: 19 – Bruno Fernandes, 16 – Marcus Rashford, 7 – Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial, Scott McTominay, 4 – Mason Greenwood, Paul Pogba, 3 – Daniel James, 2 – Harry Maguire, Juan Mata, Own Goal, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 1 – Victor Lindelof, Donny van de Beek

Real Sociedad Goals: 10 – Mikel Oyarzabal, 9 – Alexander Isak, 6 – Portu, 4 – Willian José, 2 – Ander Barrenetxea, Jon Bautista, Adnan Januzaj, Roberto López, Nacho Monreal, 1 – Own Goal, Mikel Merino, David Silva

Team News: Two players to miss the Europa League clash for United with just one player on the sidelines for Real Sociedad. United have added a 17-year-old wonderkid to their squad, which shows Solskjaer has different options.

Phil Jones (knee) and Paul Pogba (thigh) are the only players on the sidelines through injury at the moment. Solskjaer added 17-year-old Shola Shoretire to the Europa League squad in the run up to Thursday’s match, which will give the club another attack-minded player, should he be required. Amad Diallo has also been added to the squad after his transfer was completed last month. He has played twice for the U23’s this season, scoring three goals and three assists but missed a match through illness. Solskjaer will be without Edinson Cavani and Donny van de Beek for this match. They are not injured but have muscular problems, which would be better solved with them sitting out this match, to stop injuries happening which would become costly for United.

Luca Sangalli (knee) is the only Real Sociedad player on the sidelines through injury at this time, however, he is not currently named in the Europa League squad because of his injury which will see him out of action until at least December 2021. Willian José has been removed from the squad following his loan to Wolverhampton Wanderers for the remainder of the season and Carlos Fernández, who was brought in from Sevilla has been added to the squad. Adnan Januzaj could feature against his former club for the first time since leaving the club, finding some form at the club last season. David Silva, formerly of Manchester City could feature against United once more.

Predicted Starting XI: Mason Greenwood to lead the line for United, supported by Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Amad Diallo?

Solskjaer needs to make a few changes to his side and tweak a few more things to get United in the right direction. Anthony Martial’s form is terrible at this time and I feel he needs to do more in training to get himself out of the rut that he is in. In this instance, with Edinson Cavani not travelling to Turin, Mason Greenwood should lead the line for United, flanked by both Marcus Rashford on the left and Amad Diallo on the right. Bruno Fernandes should play in the number ten role with Fred and Scott McTominay in midfield pivot. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw keep their places in the fullback roles with Eric Bailly returning to partner Harry Maguire. Dean Henderson should start thins match based on David De Gea’s recent poor form.

Match Prediction: United and Real Sociedad have met before in the Champions League with United winning once and drawing once – undefeated against the Spanish side.

United and Real Sociedad have met twice in the history of both clubs. This 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 one match and drawing the other, scoring one goal and keeping two clean sheets. Real Sociedad have lost just seven competitive matches this season, five in La Liga, one in the Copa del Rey and one 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.

Real Sociedad 1-2 Manchester United

Written by John Walker

copyright: JW