Manchester United will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing draw against Southampton over the weekend with a win against Real Sociedad.
United have been solid in the Champions League so far this season, allowing David Moyes some brief rest from the pressure of trying to guide the side to a Premier League title defence.
United are likely to make a few changes to their team for the clash tomorrow night as they look to maintain their position at the top of Group A, which would mean a more favourable draw in the first knock out round.
United are enjoying a higher percentage of possession in games this season with 56% compared to 50%.
They are also using the ball more effectively to score 11 goals compared to the eight strikers that their Spanish opponents have secured so far this season.
If United can dominate the ball, it gives them a greater chance of securing a win and keeping a clean sheet.
United have been worse in terms of discipline this season, with their players being shown a yellow card on 19 occasions compared to the 14 which have been picked up by Real Sociedad.
The Spanish side know that recent results are creating small grumblings of discontent and if they can frustrate United, that poor discipline may show itself as United’s players get more and more frustrated deeper into the game.
United’s players are finding a teammate 84% of the time when it comes to their passing, which is greater than the 81% boasted by Real Sociedad.
If United can retain a similar passing success rate for this match, it increases the side’s chances of breaking through the opposition’s defence and will allow them to create more prolonged spells of pressure.
Tackles and Interceptions
Real Sociedad are making more tackles per match than United this season; 20 tackles per game compared to 17.
That suggests they are not afraid to be aggressive as they try to win the ball back and turnover possession in key areas.
However, United are making more interceptions per match with 18 compared to 13, which suggests that the United squad is reading the game more effectively, with their players getting into better positions.
Shots and Shots on Target
In terms of efforts on goal this season, there isn’t too much between the teams; United are having 14 efforts on goal per match with five on target compared to 12 shots per game from Real Sociedad and four on target.
Both teams are very comfortable inside their opponent’s final third and neither attack is afraid to ping efforts at the opponent’s goal, looking for an advantage or to get back into a game.
Again, there isn’t really too much between the teams in terms of shots they concede on their own goal per game; United are allowing 12 efforts on their own goal to Sociedad’s 14.
That suggests that both back fours are playing a bit deeper, which creates more space in front of the defence for attacking players to get shots away.
Both sides are very keen to attack down either flank with 74% of United’s play coming from wide areas and 76% of Real Sociedad’s play coming from wider areas.
That suggests that the full backs in this game are going to be crucial and whichever set of right and left-backs can defend most effectively, will nullify the main threat from the opposition.
United press more in the middle of the pitch and when they lose the ball inside their opponent’s final third, trying to win possession back quickly to maintain pressure.
What’s your score prediction for the game?
image: © Paolo Camera