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Manchester United vs Real Sociedad: UEFA Europa League background, form guide, previous meetings

Manchester United hope to complete their round of 32 mission as they host Real Sociedad 4-0 up.

Bruno Fernandes struck twice for Manchester United in the first leg
Bruno Fernandes struck twice for Manchester United in the first leg Manchester United via Getty Imag

Manchester United's flawless record in UEFA Europa League round of 32 ties looks set to continue as they take on Real Sociedad at Old Trafford 4-0 up from the first leg.

• The two clubs experienced contrasting fortunes in dramatic group stage denouements in December. While United lost their final two fixtures in UEFA Champions League Group H to finish third behind Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig, there was joy at the conclusion of UEFA Europa League Group F for the Spanish side as an added-time equaliser at Napoli enabled them to clinch second place behind their Italian hosts at AZ Alkmaar's expense. Both United and La Real ended their group campaigns with nine points.

Highlights: Real Sociedad 0-4 Man. United
Highlights: Real Sociedad 0-4 Man. United

Previous meetings
 
• A switch of first-leg venue from San Sebastián to Turin did Real Sociedad no favours as they were taken apart in the Juventus Stadium by a rampant United side for whom Bruno Fernandes opened the scoring in the first half and added another in the second before Marcus Rashford and Daniel James put the seal on a comprehensive victory.

• The clubs have been paired together just once before, in the 2013/14 UEFA Champions League group stage, United winning the first game 1-0 at Old Trafford with an early own goal and drawing 0-0 in San Sebastián a fortnight later. United went on to top the group undefeated, eventually reaching the quarter-finals, while Real Sociedad finished bottom with just the single point gained from that goalless draw.

• That was Real Sociedad's most recent meeting with English opposition until the first leg of this tie, the only other one dating back to 1975 and a 9-1 aggregate defeat by Liverpool in the second round of the UEFA Cup – a competition the Merseysiders went on to win. The 6-0 defeat at Anfield remains the Spanish side's heaviest in European competition.

• United's victory in Turin ended a nine-game winless run against Spanish opposition, home and away, since they prevailed 1-0 at Celta Vigo in the first leg of the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League semi-final. They have won only nine of their 26 home matches against Spanish visitors, that 1-0 victory against Real Sociedad the sole success in their last nine such fixtures at Old Trafford (D4 L4).

• United's record in two-legged knockout ties against Spanish clubs is W6 L9. They have been eliminated from European competition by Liga opposition in each of the last three seasons – by Sevilla in the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League round of 16 (0-0 a, 1-2 h) and in last season's one-off UEFA Europa League semi-final (1-2), and Barcelona in the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals (0-1 h, 0-3 a).

Five memorable Manchester United Europa League goals
Five memorable Manchester United Europa League goals

Form guide
 Manchester United
• United finished third in the Premier League last season, when they also lost three semi-finals – in the English League Cup, the FA Cup and the UEFA Europa League. Their league position enabled them to compete in the UEFA Champions League group stage for the 23rd time.

• Ole Gunnar Solskjær's team got off to a flier in Group H, beating Paris 2-1 away and Leipzig 5-0 at home, but they would lose three of their last four fixtures – 1-2 at İstanbul Başakşehir, 1-3 at home to Paris and 2-3 away to Leipzig – to drop down into third place.

• The Manchester giants have appeared in four previous UEFA Europa League knockout phases and have a perfect record in the round of 32, eliminating Ajax (2-0 a, 1-2 h) in 2011/12, Midtjylland (1-2 a, 5-1 h) in 2015/16, Saint-Étienne (3-0 h, 1-0 a) in 2016/17, and Club Brugge (1-1 a, 5-0 h) last season.

• United are unbeaten in their last 14 home games in the UEFA Europa League (W12 D2), winning the last five. The last team to beat them in the competition at Old Trafford were Real Sociedad's local rivals Athletic Club, who won 3-2 there in the first leg of the 2011/12 round of 16, eventually taking the tie 5-3 on aggregate.

• United have been successful in all 18 UEFA ties in which they won the first leg away, most recently in last season's UEFA Europa League round of 16 tie against LASK (5-0 a, 2-1 h). They have never previously won the away first leg 4-0.

Bruno Fernandes on United's 'perfect night'
Bruno Fernandes on United's 'perfect night'

Real Sociedad
• A sixth-placed finish in the 2019/20 Spanish Liga secured a return to European football for Real Sociedad after a two-season absence. Imanol Aguacil's team also reached the final of the Copa del Rey, against Athletic, but that all-Basque fixture has been postponed indefinitely.

• The San Sebastián club began this European campaign in the UEFA Europa League group stage and, as in their only previous appearance in the competition proper, in 2017/18, they qualified as runners-up, taking four points off both AZ (1-0 h, 0-0 a) and Rijeka (1-0 a, 2-2 h) and one off section winners Napoli (0-1 h, 1-1 a). Their tally of just five goals scored was the lowest of the 24 teams that came through the group stage.

• La Real’s one previous appearance in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase, in 2017/18, proved brief as they were defeated 4-3 on aggregate in the round of 32 by Salzburg (2-2 h, 1-2 a).

• Real Sociedad are unbeaten on the road in this season's UEFA Europa League (W1 D2), conceding just one goal. They have kept clean sheets in four of their last six away fixtures in the competition.

• Real Sociedad have lost all three previous UEFA ties in which they have travelled to an away fixture with a first-leg deficit, the most recent case being in the 2003/04 UEFA Champions League round of 16 when they were eliminated after losing 1-0 both at home then away against Lyon.

UEFA Europa League squad changes
Manchester United
 
In: Nathan Bishop, Amad Diallo (Atalanta), Phil Jones
 Out: Facundo Pellistri (Alavés, loan), Timothy Fosu-Mensah (Leverkusen), Jesse Lingard (West Ham, loan), Odion Ighalo (end of loan)

Real Sociedad
 
In: Carlos Fernández (Sevilla)
 Out: Willian José (Wolves, loan)

Links and trivia
• Belgian international Adnan Januzaj joined Real Sociedad from United in 2017 after coming through the Manchester club's academy. He scored five goals in 63 senior appearances for the Red Devils and also spent the 2016/17 season in England on loan at Sunderland.

• Januzaj scored the only goal of the game as Belgium beat England in the final group game at the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Rashford and half-time substitute Harry Maguire were in the England side.

• David Silva spent ten seasons at United's local rivals Manchester City before joining Real Sociedad last summer. The 125-cap former Spain midfielder won 11 major trophies with City, including four Premier League titles. Four of his 77 goals for the club – in 436 appearances – came in Manchester derbies.

• Nacho Monreal made 251 appearances in all competitions for Arsenal from 2013 to 2019, when he joined Real Sociedad, while Mikel Merino had a single season with Newcastle United in 2017/18, scoring once in 25 games.

• United have three players with Spanish Liga experience – David de Gea (Atlético de Madrid 2008–11), Eric Bailly (Espanyol 2013–15, Villarreal 2015–16) and Juan Mata (Real Madrid Castilla 2006/07, Valencia 2007–11).

• Merino and Mikel Oyarzabal are Spain team-mates of United goalkeeper De Gea.

• United defender Victor Lindelöf and Real Sociedad forward Alexander Isak are Swedish internationals.

• United are the only former UEFA Europa League winners competing in this season's round of 32.

• United are also one of six former European Cup winners in this season's UEFA Europa League knockout phase, the others being Ajax, Benfica, Crvena zvezda, AC Milan and PSV Eindhoven.

Penalty shoot-outs
 
• Manchester United's record in three UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W1 L2:
4-5 v Videoton, 1984/85 UEFA Cup quarter-final
3-4 v Torpedo Moskva, 1992/93 UEFA Cup first round
6-5 v Chelsea, 2007/08 UEFA Champions League final

• Real Sociedad's record in two UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W0 L2:
2-4 v Stuttgart, 1988/89 UEFA Cup quarter-final
3-4 v Partizan, 1990/91 UEFA Cup second round