As Manchester United prepare for another European campaign, we look at how their group opponents got on domestically at the weekend.
Manchester United couldn’t complain following last week’s Champions League draw. With David Moyes preparing for his first soiree into the group stage, the sides he will have to overcome should be manageable if he has realistic aspirations of following in the footsteps of his predecessor.
The toughest games are likely to be against a Bayer Leverkusen side managed by former Liverpool defender Sami Hyypia, although away trips to Shakhtar Donetsk and Real Sociedad will require United to be at their best.
Every week we will take a look at how United’s Champions League opponents have fared in their domestic competitions, giving fans a hint of what to expect in the build-up to the matches that start on 17 September.
Shakhtar drew 1-1 with Metalist in a top of the table clash on Saturday. League leaders Shakhtar took the lead in the 59th-minute with a goal from midfielder Taras Stepanenko, but their opponents equalised 18 minutes later through Marko Devic.
The result left Shakhtar two points clear at the top of the Ukrainian Premier League table; although they will now have to do without Darijo Srna, who was sent off in added-time.
With a 100% record going into their game against a Schalke side with just one point from their opening three matches, things were looking good for Hyypia’s side. That was until the game started, and an impressive performance from Schalke’s Jefferson Farfan saw him set up the first and score the second in a 2-0 win.
Leverkusen had plenty of chances but as the game wore on Schalke’s pressing prevented their opponents’ midfield three from dominating play.
Leverkusen remain third in the Bundesliga, and United may want to watch a recording of this match to see how to negate Lars Bender, Gonzalo Castro and Stefan Reinartz in the centre of the pitch.
Sociedad made it one of each with their 2-1 defeat at home to Atletico Madrid. They have now won, drawn and lost in their opening three La Liga matches. But it could so easily have been different, with Sociedad giving all they could in a late onslaught.
Goals from David Villa and Koke gave Atletico a 2-0 lead, and they looked destined to continue their 100% start to the new campaign. But a goal from Xabi Prieto halved the deficit and only some outstanding goalkeeping from Chelsea loanee Thibaut Courtois prevented Jagoba Arrasat’s side from claiming a point.
Sociedad are currently eighth in La Liga, with four points from three games.
image: © El Ronzo