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Every single Man United fan has done a couple of things over the last few days. They’ve looked up ‘Sociedad’ on Google Maps, only to find it return a blank. Even Google Maps doesn’t know where it is. Well, they play in San Sebastien, but that’s beside the point – as this game is taking place in Turin.
So, what are Man United and Real Sociedad’s links? Well, they were both left unsatisfied by David Moyes, although I suspect that goes for most outside of east London and Merseyside. They’re also having slightly better seasons than either would have anticipated, with United lingering in second, mounting the last strains of their title challenge, and Sociedad being just eight points off Barcelona.
How much does progression matter to these clubs? Well, a considerable amount if you’re Ole Gunnar Solskjaer given his checkered history of landing European trophies for the club. Do Man United also need a level of focus now given their top-four status is probably safe and the Finishing Ahead of Liverpool Trophy isn’t actually a thing anymore? Here are three of the best bets.
Thursday 5:55pm: Real Sociedad v Man Utd
BT Sport 1
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There’s nothing quite like home advantage being taken away from you is there? In that regard, the smart money probably belongs with backing the ‘away’ sides as they were, particularly when they’re the stronger of the two in the first place.
This is around the price I’d have made United in Spain, so I can’t turn away this price to win in Italy. The one thing that can be said for Solskjaer is that he knows how to regroup after a poor performance. Yes, the draw with Everton was an unsatisfactory end, but I thought United played quite well.
The performance against West Brom was considerably more concerning though, and that’s where the attention has to be placed. They’ll need to go to the home of Cristiano Ronaldo’s career now and try to kidnap him and bring him back – like every single transfer window has been suggesting over the last seven years.
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The one thing we know about Harry Maguire bar he likes to enjoy himself on his holidays is that, for a big, physical presence, his actual awareness under a high ball leaves a lot to be desired. And I don’t believe, due to the size mismatch that anyone else marking him would create, that Ole is going to take Maguire off Sociedad’s primary goalscoring threat in Isak in the first place.
This should present the six-foot-four, in-form behemoth of a centre forward with ample opportunity to net.
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Now, I’m a real advocate of avoiding handicap markets. This is probably the first time I’ve tipped one up in over a year, but if the stars align accordingly, this Man United team is flush with goals.
And not to disrespect Sociedad’s league campaign – but their brand of football garners far more respect for its essence than its imposing will in Spain. Man United don’t care if you try and keep the ball for long periods – it’s when they’re dangerous.
There’s a chance this could be very easy for United and I think it’s slightly overpriced in the betting.
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