What Man Utd need to do to win their Europa League group ahead of Real Sociedad clash
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The Red Devils currently sit second in Group E with 12 points - suffering their only defeat to Real Sociedad in September. They are now set for another match-up with the Spanish club in their final group fixture this week.
With United looking a lot more positive under Ten Hag in the Premier League recently, they will be confident of picking up their first bit of silverware under the Dutchman in Europe. However, their success in the competition could depend on whether they finish first or second in the group.
While both United and Real Sociedad are guaranteed to progress past the group stage, they will both be keen to claim first place in Group E this week.
Here’s what the Red Devils need to do in their next match to top the group...
What do Man Utd need to do to win their group?
Real Sociedad currently sit top of Group E with 15 points after winning all five of their matches so far, while United are three points behind. This means it could all come down to their head-to-head record on Thursday night.
Imanol Alguacil’s side beat the Red Devils 1-0 earlier this season, which means Ten Hag’s team would simply need to better that score later this week. They will need a two-goal difference to claim first spot in their group - for example, a 2-0 or 3-1 win at the Estadio Anoeta would be enough. A 1-0 win would leave them second as it would then go down to goal difference.
Why do Man Utd need to win their group?
United have already progressed past the group stage, however finishing top of Group E would benefit them massively for their future fixtures. The eight group winners in the Europa League will automatically qualify for the round of 16, while the runners-up will be forced to compete in a daunting two-legged play-off against one of the third-placed Champions League teams in February. With the likes of Atletico Madrid, Ajax, Barcelona and Sevilla all likely to be among the potential opponents, United will be looking to avoid the play-off fixtures at all costs.
How have Premier League clubs fared in Europe this season?
Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea have already progressed past the group stages of the Champions League with a game to spare, while Tottenham’s chances will go down to their final group game this week. There is currently only two points between Spurs in first place and Marseille in fourth, with the two teams set to face off in France on Tuesday night.
Arsenal have comfortably qualified in their Europa League group and currently sit top on 12 points despite defeat to PSV Eindhoven last time out. They will win their group if they beat FC Zurich on Thursday, however a draw or defeat could leave them in second place.
Meanwhile, West Ham have already won their group in the Europa Conference League after winning all five of their matches so far. They will look to make it six from six as they travel to Romania to face FCSB midweek.