Manchester United are back in action in the UEFA competitions. Unfortunately, once again, the Devils are back in the weaker of the two competitions, following the disappointing end to the group stage phase last December. United did not manage to get out of their group and now Europa League action awaits them every Thursday. This could be a good opportunity to offer playing time to some of the fringe players and then if there is the chance to maybe win silverware, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his team should definitely try and get there. But the road to trophy is very long. This is only the first half of the Round of 32. Here is what you should know.
Real Sociedad have their problems in terms of personnel, as Luca Sangalli and Miguel Angel Moya are among those injured players. Robin Le Normand is coming back from an injury and it remains to be seen what kind of role he will get for the Spanish side.
Manchester United are going to be without Paul Pogba who has a hamstring injury and will not play before March comes. Edinson Cavani and Donny van de Beek are also out of contention, which should not alter Solskjaer’s plans all that much. He will be expected to heavily rotate tomorrow night, considering Europa League is only adding further fixtures to an already heavily congested schedule. Premier League remains a priority anyway.
Real Sociedad are not in ideal form. Truth to be told, they did win their last two games in La Liga, with a 4-1 beating of Cadiz and a 1-0 win away against Getafe. But overall looking, they have had their fair share of issues. Those two wins are their only La Liga wins in 2021, since they only managed to beat Cordoba in Copa del Rey, before getting knocked out against Real Betis.
In fact, Real Sociedad have only three wins in their last 18 matches in all competitions, a run of results that goes since late November and that is definitely a reason why Manchester United should be hopeful ahead of this match.
Manchester united have not been in ideal form of late either. That 1-1 draw against West Bromwich Albion definitely hurt the Devils, as well as the late goal conceded in a 3-3 draw against Everton. This time around, however, Solskjaer will put out a weaker side and it will be interesting to see how they fare. This competition should be an ideal option for giving opportunities to youngsters and fringe players, to see what the Devils could get from them in the long-term.
Considering everything mentioned above, Manchester United are clear favourites to win this match and should do so with more than 1.5 goals scored. This could be a strong away performance against a side that is clearly struggling for months. A comfortable win in the first leg should be a great incentive for an easier second leg and further chances for youngsters to get some playing time.