Steadied Real Sociedad Ready For Euro Revival?
Jagoba Arrasate’s Real Sociedad await the arrival of Manchester United hoping that their recent good form can spark a European revival. It has been a roller-coaster season thus far for the San Sebastian club as they began the term in superb fashion, defeating Lyon over two legs to qualify for the Group Stage of the Champions League, and started their domestic campaign on the right foot.
There was early talk of this being a team that could mimic the feats of Malaga last season and make the quarter-finals of the Champions League. An early September defeat to Atletico Madrid however derailed that strong start to the season and Arrasate’s charges proceeded to go nine matches in Spain and Europe without a victory.
There is a belief that recent results, including a 3-0 win versus Almeria and 5-0 trouncing of Osasuna sandwiched around a draw at Real Valladolid suggest that Real Sociedad are finding their consistency. That remains to be seen, though Manchester United must beware as those two victories were both at home and this side are definitely stronger at the Estadio Anoeta.
Improved Manchester United Aiming To Care Of Business
For all the talk about the David Moyes’ reign at Manchester United looking like a disaster so far, the standings in England and Europe point to a different story. The Red Devils may be a staggering eight points behind league leaders Arsenal just ten matches into the season, but they are only three points behind Chelsea and two from Manchester City. Manchester United also top Group A in the Champions League ahead of Bayer Leverkusen.
Those statistics don’t look so bad for the Premier League champions. And Manchester United do appear to be hitting something resembling a stride. The past week has been the best yet under Moyes with three straight victories including a comeback win against Stoke that evoked memories of the way Sir Alex Ferguson’s teams would stage remarkable second half fightbacks to claim vital points.
The team’s first-half performance against Fulham on Saturday was perhaps their best bit of football this season with three goals in 20 minutes, though the second half performance was poor and almost allowed the Cottagers a way back. This is certainly a team that would be labelled a work in progress, but after a difficult start it does appear Manchester United are improving.
Arrasate’s side must throw caution to the wind in this match as Real Sociedad have no room for error left in the Champions League; a defeat eliminates the Spaniards while a draw may as well depending on whether Bayer Leverkusen defeat Shakhtar Donetsk. This could bring about goals against a Manchester United side still not looking wholly convincing or it could play into the hands of Moyes’ experienced team,who could punish on the counter-attack. Real Sociedad probably deserved something more from the first match between the two at Old Trafford, a 1-0 defeat. The home side look to be on the up, but Manchester United do as well and the English giants should be able to walk away with a draw. Real Sociedad 1-1 Manchester United.