Manchester United begin their European campaign at home to Real Sociedad in the opening round of UEFA Europa League Group E fixtures on Thursday.
This might not be the competition of which United want to be a part, but they reached the final back in 2020/21 after beating La Real 4-0 over two legs in a last-32 tie, so they will be keen to make a positive start and underline their credentials to go all the way this time.
Erik ten Hag’s men are in a confident mood, having extended their winning Premier League run to four games with Sunday’s 3-1 defeat of Arsenal. Sociedad, who drew 1-1 with Atletico Madrid, know they will be the underdogs at Old Trafford.
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Manchester United host Real Sociedad at Old Trafford, UK. The match starts at 8 p.m. BST on Thursday, September 8.
UK: BT Sport are the exclusive broadcasters of live Europa League matches. United’s opener is on BT Sport 1 and available on the website/app.
USA: Paramount+ will stream the match live in English, while the Spanish-language broadcast is available on TUDN.
Canada: Follow the action live exclusively on DAZN.
Australia: Fans in Australia can watch the game via Stan Sport.
After two league games last week and with a trip to Crystal Palace to come on September 11, Ten Hag chose to rotate his side for this fixture.
Captain Harry Maguire and fit-again Victor Lindelof were named in defence, with Casemiro handed his full debut in midfield alongside Brazil teammate Fred. In attack, Cristiano Ronaldo was chosen to lead the line.
Manchester United lineup (4-3-3): De Gea (GK) — Dalot, Lindelof, Maguire, Malacia — Eriksen, Casemiro, Fred — Antony, Ronaldo, Elanga
Manchester United subs: Heaton, Igbal, McNeill, Dubravka, Garnacho, Varane, Fredricson, Fernandes, McTominay, Sancho, Wan-Bissaka, Martinez.
Umar Sadiq earned a start for La Real after coming off the bench to equalise against Atletico Madrid last time out. Takefusa Kubo was selected to partner him in attack, with former Manchester City star David Silva as a No.10.
Real Sociedad lineup (4-3-1-2): Remiro (GK) — Gorosabel, Elustondo, Pacheco, Munoz — Zubimendi, Mendez, Merino — Silva — Sadiq, Kubo
Real Sociedad subs: Guevara, Robert Navarro, Cho, Sola, Karrikaburu, Sorloth, Turrientes, Barrenetxea, Illarramendi, Zubeldia, Gonzalez de Zarate, Zubiaurre
United won the two-legged meeting with La Real 4-0 on aggregate two seasons ago and, having just won four games in a row for the first time since April 2021, it’s not a huge surprise to see them considered favourites here.
Sociedad have had a mixed start to the season, with narrow wins over Cadiz and Elche alongside a heavy defeat to Barcelona and last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid, but they come into this fixture with little to lose and will likely face a changed United lineup. With that in mind, backing a draw might well be a smart bet.