Talking Numbers: A Deeper Look Into Man United’s Brutal Win Against Real Sociedad

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Manchester United have gone to play Real Sociedad in the first leg of the round of 32 of the UEFA Europa League, after being ‘demoted’ from the Champions League, and they have already done such a well job that they can say they are in the round of 16. There is still the match at Old Trafford to be played, but after a 4-0 win which still counts as an away victory, despite playing at a neutral venue in Italy, it is almost impossible to see Real Sociedad come back from such a deficit.

Bruno Fernandes scored the first two goals to complete a brace in a brutal win of United’s, as Marcus Rahsford and Daniel James completed it with the third and fourth. Last night we wrote about the four things we learned from this match immediately after the game, but today we are taking a more number-centered look on the game, to see what we might have missed.

Here is what we further learned after inspecting underlying metrics.

Expected Goals Paint The Picture

Manchester United won 4-0 and in that kind of a match, it should be expected that their expected goals are clearly above that of the opposition. And that was the case here as well. According to Infogol, Man United were expected to score 2.56 goals from the quality of the chances they had made, while Real Sociedad’s tally stood at just 0.54 xG. And that sounds about right when we factor everything in. The model expected United to score between two and three goals, which is about right, considering that United’s finishing on the night was above average and therefore the victory was a big one. Still, that overperformance is nothing to be worried about – whenever a team scores four or more goals, hardly ever the team who does that manages to not overperform the xG mode. On the other hand, United did not let many opportunities to the opposition and we can be thoroughly satisfied in that regard as well.

United Get Past Real Sociedad Pressure

The Spanish side had much more of the ball, which suited United’s counter-attacking oriented forwards, but they also tried to press the Devils in certain areas and win the ball back quickly. That did not work out for them. They had attempted 27 tackles all over the pitch, but have managed to win the ball just 14 times. Interestingly enough, none of those 14 successful tackles came in the central areas of the pitch, further illustrating the problems Real Sociedad had throughout.

Chances Come From Everywhere

Man United made 18 shots on the night, 10 of them going on target, but it was interesting to see where these chances were coming from. While most of the shots were from the inside of the box, it was also a fact that many players managed to create something. Fred and Daniel James both had one chance created from deep central areas, Fernandes contributed with three coming from all over the place, while Rashford also had managed to get one. Anthony Martial came off the bench to create two chances and even Nemanja Matic and Eric Bailly did get one themselves.

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