Preview: Manchester United vs. Real Sociedad

Preview: Manchester United vs. Real Sociedad

Barring a complete catastrophe, Manchester United will aim to ease into the last 16 of the Europa League when they welcome Real Sociedad to Old Trafford for the second leg of their last-32 battle.

The Red Devils are 4-0 up from last week’s first leg and are expected to advance to the next round with minimal difficulty, even with a much-changed team.
Manchester United finally appear to be heading in the right direction again after a turbulent few weeks, although they were certainly given a scare by Newcastle United in the early stages of their Premier League encounter on Sunday evening.

Despite an inspired performance from the relegation-threatened Magpies, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men struck through Marcus Rashford, Daniel James and of course, Bruno Fernandes, who wrapped up a 3-1 win for Man United with his 15th Premier League goal of the campaign.

Solskjaer’s side are now unbeaten in seven across all competitions and have won five in that run, while they have failed to score only once in their last 11 matches at Old Trafford – a 2-0 defeat to Manchester City in the EFL Cup on January 6 – finding the back of the net at least three times in their last four on home soil.

Fernandes, Rashford and James were also the goalscorers in last Thursday’s first leg with Real Sociedad, who were simply swept aside by the Red Devils as they put one foot firmly in the next round, so it would take a monumental collapse for Solskjaer’s side to somehow be sent packing now.

United have not managed to string three wins together across all competitions since December, and even though a repeat of last week’s 4-0 drubbing is highly unlikely given the raft of changes that Solskjaer is expected to make, a shell-shocked Sociedad will simply be playing for pride when they step out onto the Old Trafford turf.
Sociedad were considered genuine contenders for the La Liga title in the first half of the season, but in a tale as old as time, they struggled to keep pace with the big guns while juggling domestic and European commitments.

Imanol Alguacil’s men only just scraped by in their Europa League group, but unless the Spanish side can mirror Barcelona’s famed Champions League comeback against Paris Saint-Germain in the 2016-17 campaign, their continental dream will cease to exist for another season at least.
However, Sociedad recovered from their 4-0 thrashing at the hands of United at the weekend as they overcame Alaves by the same scoreline, with Barcelona-linked striker Alexander Isak registering a hat-trick – taking him up to 12 for the league campaign – and Portu also getting in on the act.

Repeating that feat at Old Trafford is a major ask for the visitors, although Isak has now made the net ripple nine times in his last six La Liga outings, and Sociedad have at least managed to win three games on the trot in the top flight before their journey to Manchester.

La Reales will likely be coming up against a weakened Man United team, so while it is not impossible for the Spanish side to produce a barnstorming comeback, Alguacil will simply want to see his side play with belief and valour before they take on Real Madrid in the league on Monday.

Manchester United Europa League form: W
Manchester United form (all competitions): WDWDWW

Real Sociedad Europa League form: LWDDDL
Real Sociedad form (all competitions): LDWWLW

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