RB Leipzig and Real Sociedad go head to head for the first time in UEFA competition as both clubs seek a place in the round of 16.
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RB Leipzig and Real Sociedad go head to head for the first time in UEFA competition as both clubs seek a place in the 2021/22 UEFA Europa League round of 16.
• Leipzig dropped out of the UEFA Champions League in the autumn after losing their first three matches, but wins in the last two enabled them to pip Club Brugge to third place in a section dominated by Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain. Real Sociedad also saved their best for last in UEFA Europa League Group B, defeating PSV Eindhoven 3-0 in San Sebastián on Matchday 6 to leapfrog their opponents into the runners-up spot and finish with nine points, three behind Monaco.
• Leipzig have happy memories of their one previous European match against Spanish opposition – a 2-1 victory over Atlético de Madrid in neutral Lisbon in the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League quarter-final that was secured by goals from Dani Olmo and, in the 88th minute, Tyler Adams.
• Real Sociedad have met Bundesliga opposition eight times previously and have yet to win in four visits to Germany (D1 L3), most recently going down 2-1 to Bayer Leverkusen in the 2013/14 UEFA Champions League group stage. Their record in two-legged ties against German teams is W1 L2, the most recent a penalty shoot-out defeat by Stuttgart in the 1988/89 UEFA Cup quarter-final – the San Sebastián side had eliminated Köln from the same competition a round earlier.
• Second in the Bundesliga in 2020/21, their joint highest finish, this is Leipzig's fifth European campaign, all in the past five seasons. They reached the UEFA Champions League round of 16 last term, where they were eliminated by Liverpool, having been semi-finalists, also under coach Julian Nagelsmann, the season before.
• New boss Jesse Marsch was in charge for this season's UEFA Champions League campaign, but defeats at Manchester City (3-6), at home to Club Brugge (1-2) and in Paris (2-3) scuppered their chances of a third successive knockout phase appearance. A 2-2 home draw with the French side was then followed by a 5-0 win in Belgium and a closing 2-1 home success against the English club, for which interim boss Achim Beierlorzer was in charge before handing over the reins to Domenico Tedesco.
• This is the German side's third UEFA Europa League participation and second in the knockout phase. They were beaten in the quarter-finals by Marseille in 2017/18, their maiden European campaign, having crossed over mid-term from the UEFA Champions League and eliminated Napoli and Zenit – but failed to progress beyond the group stage the following season.
• Leipzig's home record in the UEFA Europa League proper is W3 D1 L2; in the knockout phase it is W2 L1.
• In addition to winning the delayed 2019/20 Spanish Cup final against local rivals Athletic Club last season, Real Sociedad finished fifth in the 2020/21 Liga – one place higher than the previous campaign – to secure back-to-back participations in the group stage of the UEFA Europa League. Imanol Alguacil's side were second to Napoli in their section last term before going out to eventual runners-up Manchester United.
• La Real drew three of their first four games in UEFA Europa League Group B during the autumn – 2-2 in Eindhoven, 1-1 at home to Monaco and, after winning 1-0 at Sturm Graz, 1-1 also at home to the Austrian side. They then lost 2-1 in Monaco before two-goal Mikel Oyarzabal inspired them to that all-important last-day 3-0 win at home to PSV.
• The Basque club are competing in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase for the third time. On both previous occasions they also came through the group stage as runners-up but progressed no further than the round of 32, losing to Salzburg in 2017/18 (2-2 h, 1-2 a) as well as Manchester United last term, when they went down 4-0 in neutral Turin before a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford.
• The Matchday 5 defeat at the Stade Louis II ended Real Sociedad's six-game unbeaten away run in Europe (W2 D4), four of those matches having yielded clean sheets. The Spanish side are yet to record a win, home or away, in their six springtime European encounters this century (D2 L4).
UEFA Europa League squad changes
In: Philipp Tschauner
Out: Brian Brobbey (Ajax, loan), Ilaix Moriba (Valencia, loan), Joscha Wosz (Hallescher FC, loan)
In: Rafinha (Paris Saint-Germain, loan), Naïs Djouahra, Carlos Fernández
Out: Aritz Arambarri, Cristo Romero, Germán Valera
Links and trivia
• Alexander Sørloth, who completed the scoring for Real Sociedad in their Matchday 6 win against PSV, is on loan to the Spanish club from Leipzig.
• Three Real Sociedad players have all played in Germany for Borussia Dortmund – Adnan Januzaj (2015), Mikel Merino (2016/17) and Alexander Isak (2017/18).
• Leipzig's Portuguese international striker André Silva scored nine Spanish Liga goals in 27 appearances for Sevilla in 2018/19.
• There are three Spaniards in the Leipzig squad – Olmo, Josep Martínez and Angeliño – though none have featured in the Liga.
• Olmo is a current Spanish national team-mate of Oyarzabal and Merino, while Leipzig's Emil Forsberg plays alongside Isak for Sweden.
• Angeliño and Real Sociedad's David Silva were team-mates at Manchester City in 2019/20.