Old Trafford, Manchester
23 October, 19:45 BST
Manchester United host Spanish side Real Sociedad at the Old Trafford in their next Champions League clash. This is the first meeting between these two sides in any competition in their history. Manchester United have made a decent start to their European campaign, but Real Sociedad are in desperate need of a win in this game after losing their opening two matches.
Team news and Tactics
Manchester United have made a slow start to their campaign under new manager David Moyes. They are currently 8th in the league and have won only three of their eight matches so far. It is their worst start to a league campaign for some time. While the fixture list hasn’t been kind to them, David Moyes knows that his side will have to return to winning ways sooner rather than later. United have won only two of their last six matches in all competitions.
Unlike their performances in the domestic league, Manchester United have made a bright start to their European campaign. They won their opening match of the group stage with a 4-2 win over Bayer Leverkusen and drew against Shakhtar away from home. In their last European game, United took an early lead as Danny Welbeck scored against the Ukrainian side. But United conceded a goal in the second half and returned home with a draw.
Manchester United are coming into this game on the back of draw against Southampton at home. United’s performance at home, which was always considered their strong hold, this season has been disappointing. They would look to bounce back with a better performance against Real Sociedad.
David Moyes will be without Nemanja Vidic and long term absentee Darren Fletcher for this game. There are also doubts about the fitness of Rio Ferdinand, Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck. This means David Moyes is unlikely to make any changes to the side that was fielded against Southampton in the weekend, which means both Nani and Januzaj will start in the wings with Robin van Persie being supported by Wayne Rooney. The only change that might take place in the last moment is the addition of Ferdinand in defence, if he is deemed fit enough to start. Although Ferdinand’s absence might be a blessing in disguise as his lack of pace might be exploited by the attack of Sociedad.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): De Gea (GK); Rafael, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra; Carrick, Fellaini; Januzaj, Rooney, Nani; Van Persie
Real Sociedad were the surprise package of La Liga last season, but they are yet to find the same consistency in this campaign and are far off from the 4th place they attained in 2012-13. Sociedad are currently 12th in the league table and have won two of their opening nine matches. In fact they have won just once in their last nine matches in all competitions. Manager Jagoba Arrasate will hope that he can inspire this side to recapture their form once again as they enter a crucial part of their season.
They have also made a poor to their Champions League campaign. This is their first season in this tournament since the 2003-04 season, and perhaps their poor performance in Europe is easier to justify considering the lack of experience in this squad. They have lost their opening two matches in Europe against Shakhtar and Bayer Leverkusen and will probably find themselves out of contention in this group if they fail to get a positive result at Old Trafford. The result against Bayer was a disappointing one as they conceded a late winner after Carlos Vela drew level for the away side.
The only positive thing for the Spanish side is the fact that they are coming into this game on the back of an important win against Valencia in the league. Antoine Griezmann and Ruben Pardo scored on either side of the half time to give them their first win in nine matches. Arrasate will hope that the positive result can restore the confidence back into the squad.
The Real Sociedad manager is without Esteban Granero, Diego Ifran and Daniel Estrada for this match due to fitness concerns. But they are boosted by the return of Xabi Prieto, who came on as a substitute in the win against Valencia. His experience in attack will be crucial for them, but he is unlikely to start in this game and will come on as a sub. Jagoba Arrasate is expected to use an unchanged starting line-up from the last game, which means Gonzalo Castro will once again start from the bench.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Bravo (GK); C Martinez, Gonzalez, I Martinez, De La Bella; Bergara, Pardo; Griezmann, Zurutuza, Vela; Agirretxe
Players to watch out for: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United); Carlos Vela (Real Sociedad)
Prediction: Manchester United 2-1 Real Sociedad