Claudio Bravo – goalkeeper
Since arriving from Colo-Colo in 2006, this goalkeeper has been one of a constant in the Real Sociedad line-up, becoming a key part of the Erreala machine that qualified for the Champions League last term. His athleticism and command of the area make him a real presence, and the Manchester United forwards will have to be at the top of their game if they are to score against the Chile international. The 30-year-old has conceded three goals already in the group stages, but every one of them so far have been real gems.
Inigo Martinez – centre-back
Having impressed consistently for Real Sociedad, Inigo Martinez is now a fully-fledged Spain international at only 22 years of age. Wise well beyond his years, the youngster is calm on the ball, but equally as adept in the air. His pace and reading of the game can be real assets when up against Robin Van Persie or Wayne Rooney on Wednesday night, but the centre-back is also equipped with the technical ability to take the ball out of the back and spring attacks. It’s no fluke he was named as one of the three best defenders in La Liga last term in the LFP awards.
Xabi Prieto – central midfield
The captain and the heart of this Real Sociedad side. The 30-year-old has had opportunities to leave the Anoeta in the past, but having graduated from the youth ranks, has always remained loyal to the cause. Sitting at the base of the midfield, Xabi Prieto is the pendulum through which La Real’s pace and tempo are dictated. He has an eye for a pass and has been known to pop up with the odd goal. It’s when breaking up the play though, that the veteran is at his best.
Antoine Griezmann – winger
Probably one of the most exciting prospects in Spain at the moment, Griezmann mixes pace with technical ability to a frightening degree. His wonder goal against Olympique Lyonnais was one of the reasons Real Sociedad made it to the group stages, and he’s been getting better ever since. Operating out wide, the 22-year-old will swap flanks and cause the Manchester United full-backs all sorts of problems.
Carlos Vela – striker
Arsenal fans will be well aware of the class Carlos Vela has in his locker. The Mexico international cut a frustrated figure at the Emirates Stadium, but he showed his true genius in flashes for Arsene Wenger’s men. Since his move to the Anoeta though, the forward has been on a frightening upward trajectory, becoming the catalyst for Jagoba Arrasate’s men. 31 goals in 86 matches for La Real since 2011 mean the 26-year-old is now one of the best strikers in Spain, and can cause the Old Trafford faithful a few worries.
image: © Danny Ojeda