Many reds may have been slightly surprised to see the Basque team in the Champions League draw but their inclusion was down to a tremendous league campaign where they finished fourth after leapfrogging Valencia on the final day. Coach Philippe Montanier left for Rennes at the end of the campaign after fulfilling his two year contract. His assistant Jagoba Arrasate was promoted to take his place on the bench.
Most Real players will be unknown quantities but United fans may be familiar with Carlos Vela, formerly of Arsenal who has now settled with Sociedad, his fourth loan club. He did relatively well last season scoring 16 goals, amongst the top ten goalscorers in la liga. He’s now aided by Swiss international Haris Seferovic, who left Fiorentina following various loan spells and the arrival of Mario Gomez.
It was Seferovic who scored a spectacular goal from outside the box against Lyon to help his team get through the Champions League qualifiers.
Another key strike in the qualifiers, this time a bicycle kick, came from Antoine Griezmann. He plays mainly as a left winger but can switch and came in from the right for his Lyon goal. He has also been known to spend time centrally. He has technical skill and possesses good acceleration; abilities that were seen in abundance as he was at the centre of most of his side’s moves in the Lyon game.
Moving to the defence, their goalkeeper Bravo has his critics, he has a soft centre of which you can be take advantage. In recent games against Barcelona and Shaktar Donetsk, he was guilty of not being decisive enough. Plenty of shots, plenty of crosses and plenty of pressure should see United obtain some return.
Evra you are not alone. Sociedad’s fullbacks appear to lose all sense of positioning when under the duress from attacking wingers.
We saw this against Barcelona with Messi’s and Neymar’s goals and attempts by Malaga in their recent 0-0.
Real Sociedad vs Malaga Antoine Griezmann
United need to work the spaces outside of the box and draw the defenders across, this fault appears too much and too often for United not to exploit it.
Our wingers need to work that zone between the edge of the box and byline. They also have to coordinate well with the forwards and the fullbacks. There’s space there, so go and use it!
There’s also space available in front of the defence and Sociedad’s start to the season means they may be vulnerable to an attacking blitz. Can United do that though? United have hardly shown a real dynamism thus far themselves. As it’s an away game for Sociedad you might expect caution, but we expect the visitors to take the game to United and perhaps line up in a 4-2-3-1 in the first instance, as they did in their games against Barca and Donetsk.
Real Sociedad vs Barcelona Carlos Vela, remember him?
United may then hope to edge themselves into the game gradually and stretch Sociedad, looking to create space at the edge of the 18 yard box.
It will be beneficial for United to mix up their passing; diagonal, short, long and those that drag opponents out of their defensive zones. It should be a good game.