Real Sociedad has been playing flawlessly this season in the Europa League, but that cannot be said of their recent La Liga efforts as Alguacil’s team looks to bounce back from back-to-back domestic losses in order to secure a last-16 spot in Europe’s secondary tournament.
The only team in the 2022–23 Europe League, Sociedad, has won all five of its group games thus far. The most recent of these was a 2-0 victory over Omonia last week thanks to goals from Robert Navarro and Brais Mendez.
The La Liga team’s 10 goals do not rank among the Europa League’s most productive squads. But they have conceded just one goal in the entire tournament so far – unsurprisingly the best defensive record in the competition and one that will be tested to the limit on Thursday night.
Sociedad only needs to avoid losing to Man United by two goals or more to advance to the knockout stages as group winners, but their La Liga form has recently suffered after consecutive defeats to Real Valladolid and Real Betis without a goal.
Los Txuri-Urdin had previously won five straight games at home before being defeated by Betis; however, Sociedad is aiming to make it three straight home victories in Europe for the first time since 1998–1999; the hosts also have fond memories of their earlier trip to Old Trafford.
Man United have responded admirably since losing on Mendez’s contentious 59th-minute penalty on the first matchday of the Europa League to ensure that they will at the very least be in the running for the knockout round playoffs after four straight victories.
The visit of Sheriff Tiraspol last week, where Cristiano Ronaldo scored the third of his team’s three goals on the night after Diogo Dalot and Marcus Rashford had also scored, naturally only one player stole the headlines before his return to the squad.
Inflicting revenge upon Sociedad with a one-goal win will not be enough to seal top spot for Man United, who must win by at least two goals on Thursday if they are to automatically qualify for the last-16 and avoid one of the teams dropping down from the Champions League.
The resilient Red Devils defence has only allowed one goal in their last six games, and Rashford’s 100th goal for the club was all it took for Ten Hag’s team to defeat West Ham United 1-0 at the weekend.
Man United has also scored in each of their last 12 away Europa League games since October 2019, and they crushed Real Sociedad 4-0 at the Anoeta Stadium during the 2020–21 Europa League last–32.
Repeating that performance on Thursday would guarantee them a first-place finish.
The odds of a win for the home side stands at 3.3, while those of a stalemate are at 3.4.
Although being the away side, Man United are favourites to win this contest, with their odds at 2.2.
The stage is set for Ten Hag’s team to upset Sociedad on Thursday because Sociedad is coming off of two disappointing domestic results and has a number of players out injured.
In contrast to a Man United team that has recently been a defensive force to be reckoned with, attacking absences should hurt the hosts hard.
We can envision the in-form Red Devils securing a 2 goal victory they need to edge Sociedad to the top spot!