Football

‘It keeps everyone on their toes’ – Solskjaer reacts to Manchester United Europa League draw against Real Sociedad

The Red Devils boss feels being matched up with the Liga leaders is similar to a draw his side could have received in the Champions League

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is relishing the chance to face La Liga leaders Real Sociedad in the Europa League last 32. 

Solskjaer’s side fell 3-2 to RB Leipzig last week in their Champions League group stage finale, consigning them to the Europa League. 

Their draw for the last 32 is a tough one as the Red Devils will face off against high-flying Sociedad, who currently lead La Liga after winning seven and drawing five of their first 13 matches. 

Though disappointed by his side’s inability to reach the Champions League knockout round, Solskjaer believes that United’s draw in the Europa League is reminiscent of one they would have received in Europe’s top club competition. 

“It sounds like a Champions League draw and it’s definitely one that keeps everyone on their toes,” he told United’s official website.

“They’re the team that’s top of La Liga at the moment ahead of teams like Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid. I’ve watched them a couple of times and they’re an exciting team and it’ll be a test for us.

“We’ve got some difficult games around that period. It’s not a time we can switch off and feel it’s an easy Europa League draw, this feels like a Champions League draw – they’re top of the Spanish league. We just have to stay focused.”

United will have the chance to face off against their former player Adnan Januzaj in the Europa League tie, with the Belgian having come up through United’s academy after signing at 16.

Januzaj signed with Sociedad in 2017 and has gone on to establish himself as a regular with the Liga side, scoring two goals in 13 total appearances this season. 

Solskjaer will be wary of facing Januzaj, a player he knows will enter the two-leg tie with a point to prove. 

“They’re hard-working with high intensity and some high-quality players and they’ve got our own Adnan of course,” Solskjaer added. “They also have some experienced players and some young, up-and-coming players.

“Everyone who plays against Man Utd wants to show what could have been and Adnan’s done well in his career.

“It’s always difficult to see where you’re going to go after Man Utd and he’s one of those boys that you hope would make it here. It wasn’t to be so now we’ll have to make sure that he’s not going to enjoy his return!”

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