The Europa League group stage kicks off with one of the most encouraging fixtures of the round as Spanish side Real Sociedad travel to Old Trafford to take on the resurgent Red Devils. Manchester United seem to have turned the corner recently, and they have the qualities to go deep into the Europa League, with their first match coming against Real Sociedad. With more signings all but assured, Manchester United have the roster strength to mount a challenge for the 2022/23 UEFA Europa League title, with the pursuit of a trophy being a significant priority for new manager Erik Ten Hags’ schedule this season.
Manchester United also face Sheriff and Omonoia in Group E, with Mikel Arteta leading his troops into continental battles with PSV, Bodo/Glimt and FC Zurich in group A. Manchester United are riding a four-game winning run in the Premier League. However, Manchester United are still conceding chances. With changes to their usual backline expected Thursday, it is unlikely they will maintain their clean sheet against a dangerous Real Sociedad side in this match. Following embarrassing losses to Brentford and Brighton to open the season, United appear to have recovered their confidence, and Dutch coach Erik ten Hag’s tactics are paying off.
This week, Cristiano Ronaldo hopes to get back into Manchester United’s starting lineup. While Real Sociedad will be a welcoming sight for the superstar, the Europa League is unexplored ground for him. During his time at Real Madrid, Ronaldo had an excellent record versus Real Sociedad. On Thursday night at Old Trafford, he will want to keep up this momentum and score his first goal of the campaign. While Cristiano Ronaldo was playing in Spain, Real Sociedad wasn’t always a fixture in La Liga. He met them nine times in all, winning all nine contests for a win percentage of 100%. Ronaldo has scored an incredible 15 goals and contributed four assists in nine games.
In addition to keeping up alongside Casemiro, Ten Hag will look for two players with a forward-thinking mentality. Casemiro will start in the base of the midfield. Fred will be desperate to get back into the starting lineup after missing it since a 4-0 loss to Brentford. Since Casemiro is the most advanced midfielder of the three, the former Shakhtar Donetsk player can replace him alongside Casemiro and take on a similar role to that of Christian Eriksen in the last four games, where he is expected to get forward and provide support despite not being the most advanced midfielder. Fred is capable of playing a box-to-box sort of role. He was one of United’s top players in the second part of the previous season under Ralf Rangnick.