Man Utd team news: Predicted XI vs Real Sociedad as Erik ten Hag aims to prevent nightmare


    Manchester United travel to Real Sociedad on Thursday, knowing anything less than a win by two goals will condemn them to second place in Europa League Group E and an unwanted play-off tie in the new year. Express Sport runs through Erik ten Hag’s likely strong lineup as he aims to avoid adding two games, potentially against nightmare opposition, to an already hectic schedule.

    Goalkeeper: De Gea

    David de Gea has played in every minute of Ten Hag’s reign and showcased exactly why against West Ham United last time out, making a series of match-winning saves in the dying embers. He’ll be determined to put on a show in Spain and prove to the nation’s fans just how wrong Luis Enrique would be to exclude him from his World Cup squad.

    Defence: Dalot, Maguire, Martinez, Shaw

    United haven’t conceded a goal at Old Trafford since La Real’s somewhat plucky penalty in the reverse fixture, and that’s been down to Ten Hag’s lack of defensive rotation. In rarely switching his back four around, the Dutchman’s defence is growing in chemistry and quality.

    Raphael Varane’s injury absence until the World Cup break is a blow, but Harry Maguire slotted back in seamlessly against West Ham and will be keen to continue his momentum. Diogo Dalot and Luke Shaw are excelling under Ten Hag’s demands, while Lisandro Martinez continues to defy expectations as one of this season’s top Premier League centre-backs.

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    Midfield: Casemiro, Eriksen

    Long gone are the days of United supporters fretting over the midfield of Scott McTominay and Fred, also known as ‘McFred’, being outclassed by almost any counterpart it faced. Casemiro and Christian Eriksen have propelled the department to a new level, simultaneously making the Red Devils a far better side.

    A player joining the club’s manager in a European pre-match press conference suggests they will start the related game. Casemiro is expected to join Ten Hag on Wednesday. And on a night when United need goals in San Sebastian, it would be a surprise not to see Eriksen’s creativity on the pitch from the off.

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    Attack: Elanga, Fernandes, Rashford; Ronaldo

    Jadon Sancho and Antony weren’t spotted in first-team training on Wednesday morning, opening the realm of possibility to an unchanged team from the West Ham win. Alejandro Garnacho shone against Sheriff Tiraspol last week, but on a night of this magnitude, Anthony Elanga’s slightly greater experience on such a stage should earn him the call.

    Bruno Fernandes will play a crucial role at the heart of United’s attack, with Marcus Rashford looking to continue his fine vein of form to his left. Cristiano Ronaldo has been ever-present in the Europa League this season and, despite Anthony Martial returning to training this week, should start his third successive game against La Real.



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