Manchester United are set to travel to Turin to play the first leg of the Europa League tie against Real Sociedad.
Every fan will remember the disappointment of exiting the Champions League early due to poor results against Leipzig and Basaksehir. When the disappointment subsided, many saw the competition as a good chance for development and potentially even a European trophy.
These hopes may have faded when the draw took place. United were paired with Real Sociedad, a team that at the time were keeping pace in La Liga with Barça and Atletico Madrid.
This may not quite be the case now, but Sociedad still sit in fifth place in La Liga. United should not take them lightly. The squad possesses a few familiar faces for United fans, including Adnan Januzaj.
The talent in the squad illustrates why some United fans were saying that this was the worst draw available. Here is a look at three players United to be particularly wary of.
Many times the scourge of United, Most United fans won’t need an introduction to David Silva.
Silva completed a free transfer to Sociedad in August last year, and has hit the ground running at the club.
Despite only registering one goal and two assists so far this season, United fans know that the stats don’t always speak with regards to Silva.
He’ll remain a threat at all times with his clever movement helping him to cause problems. United’s defence will need to be wary whenever he’s on the ball.
Subject of a big-news transfer to Borussia Dortmund in 2017, Alexander Isak moved to Real Sociedad in June 2019. A 6ft 2in centre forward, many see Isak as the spiritual successor to Zlatan Ibrahimović in the Swedish national team.
With 9 goals and 2 assists this season, Isak is Sociedad’s top striker and he has scored four goals in his last three games.
His performance in last year’s victory over Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey showcased his ability and temperament to step up in big games. He was key in Sociedad’s run to the final (one that is yet to be played).
His height and pace will be obvious threats to a defence that has struggled against players with these attributes recently. However, Isak is an accomplished dribbler with evidently good ball control, and his finishing is exceptional. He occasionally needs more than one chance to get the goal, but United won’t want to give him that.
Mikel Oyarzabal appears to have shaken off an injury scare and is likely to play a prominent role for the Spanish side.
One of Spain’s hottest prospects, Oyarzabal has played over 180 games for Real Sociedad at the age of just 23 (almost 200 if you include some games for the B team earlier in his career), captaining them on several occasions and inheriting the number 10 shirt after the retirement of fan favourite Xabi Prieto. He has also made 11 appearances for the national team.
His 10 goals and 4 assists in the season put him at the top of Sociedad’s scoring charts, impressive considering he plays on the wing, and he is clearly their biggest threat.
Although not a typical pacy winger, his talent lies mainly in his creative ability – expect a similar type of player to Silva himself. Although linked to West Ham in January, don’t expect to see him anywhere like that any time soon; that would be a step down for a player of his ability. Hopefully he won’t be able to showcase all of his talent against United over the upcoming two legs.
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