Martial’s return from injury and the absence of key La Real stars could prove vital as United look to take top spot.
Manchester United are already guaranteed to reach the next round of the Europa League, having won four out of five.
But the new competition rules include a mandatory knockout draw against the Champions League dropouts for all second-place teams. And the “red devils” will hope to avoid this.
The only possible way is to beat Real Sociedad in the final group match on Thursday in San Sebastian, and United must win by a two—goal margin to guarantee first place and direct entry to the 1/8 finals.
United’s European ambitions
The two teams met in the first group game of the season, in which United lost 0-1 due to an ambiguous penalty decision.
Takefusa Kubo, David Silva, Ander Barrenetxea, Momo Cho, Aihen Munoz, Mikel Oyarzabal and Umar Sadiq are all ruled out for Real Sociedad against Manchester United on Thursday. #MUFC [MU]
— mufcmpb (@mufcMPB) November 1, 2022
And the 20-time champions of England received a significant boost thanks to the timely return of Anthony Martial. The French striker suffered from injuries, due to which he played only three matches in the Premier League and only one episodic appearance in the Europa League.
But the 26-year-old was effective when he was in good shape, having already scored three goals and given two assists. And he could prove the difference with United needing goals on Thursday.
The return of Harry Maguire and Donnie van de Beek from injury could help Eric ten Haag shuffle his pack if needed, and the Dutch boss is hoping to get Victor Lindelof and Anthony back into competitive form.
“I think they will recover, but I can’t tell you anything else,” the former Ajax boss said on Sunday. “We have to see what will develop in the coming days and how they will develop, but I hope that when we go to Spain, everyone will be on board.”
And this is not the only good news ahead of the contest. La Real has already lost twice in La Liga and dropped to fifth place in the standings.
Real Sociedad is ready to accept
On Thursday, they will have to field a weakened team, and many stars will miss due to injuries. The United media team listed the absentees before the decisive meeting.
Takefusa Kubo was the main tormentor when the two teams last met at Old Trafford, but the Japanese winger will miss the match due to a dislocated shoulder.
Former Manchester City star David Silva will also not make the squad, while Ander Barrenechea, Momo Cho, Aichen Munoz, Mikel Oyarzabal and Umar Sadiq have all been ruled out.
Ten Hag plans to show a strong side and hopes that the team he chooses will be able to do his job and avoid further overload in an already busy season.