Manchester United unceremoniously return to Thursday night football in the Europa League after dropping out of the Champions League group stage.
Sub-edited by Ciaran CoyleEmbed from Getty Images
An abrupt Champions League campaign that started in dream fashion for the Red Devils ended with a whimper when they only picked up three points from a possible 12 before being well off the pace against a rampant RB Leipzig side in their make or break 3-2 loss.
Despite this, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will see this as another opportunity to pick up his first silverware. He will be hoping his side can take a step in the right direction in their bid to go one further this time round in the Europa League, after their semi-final defeat last year to another Spanish side, Sevilla.
The first leg of the round of 32 is set to be played in Turin due to COVID travel restrictions leaving Real Sociedad without a home advantage, whether or not there is such a thing in an empty stadium will remain to be seen.
When the draw was made in December, La Reales would’ve been one of the last sides United would’ve wanted to draw. At the time of the draw, Sociedad were top of the pile in Spain but have since seen their title bid in La Liga fade away and currently sit in sixth.
The San Sebastien outfit have never reached a European final and will be hoping their talented crop of players can put them in good stead tonight. The side have met in Europe before though during Sociedad’s debut campaign in the Champions League. La Reales finished bottom of the group with just a single point, picked up in a goalless draw against United.Embed from Getty Images
A major boost for the home side is the return of star-man Mikel Oyarzabal from injury. A familiar face in Adnan Januzaj returns against the side he left in 2017.
United are without key players with Paul Pogba, Edinson Cavani and Donny van de Beek all injured. Anthony Martial is an injury risk despite travelling to Turin, with Dean Henderson expected to start in goal. Exciting seventeen-year-old forward Shola Shoretire has travelled.
Real Sociedad 0-0 Manchester United 11/13
Manchester United 1-0 Real Sociedad 10/13