Lean and mean Real Sociedad ready to take on Manchester United

Real Sociedad have been drawn to face Manchester United in the last 32 of the Europa League.

The first leg will take place in San Sebastian on February 18th before the return leg takes place in Manchester on February 25th.

La Real qualified for the last 32 in dramatic style, earning a valuable point away at Napoli to sneak into the next stage of the competition ahead of third-placed AZ Alkmaar.

That’s not to say they were lucky, however. Far from it. Real Sociedad have earned renown as one of the best run and most stylish football clubs in the Iberian peninsula.

La Real (it’s never Sociedad) are currently sitting pretty at the top of La Liga, level on points and goal difference with Atletico Madrid but with more goals scored.

The Basque side have looked the best-placed outside of the big three of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico to sustain a serious title challenge this season.

La Real made headlines in the close-season with their signing of Manchester City and La Roja icon David Silva, but they’re far more than him plus ten.

Real Sociedad have 16 youth academy graduates in their squad and are blessed with a coach, Imanol Alguacil, who coached their youth teams before earning the top job.

Two of their star players are Mikel Merino and Mikel Oyarzabal. The former has had a super start to the season and, at 24, has his best years ahead of him.

Oyarzabal is simply different class. Despite being just 23 the youth system product is Real Sociedad’s club captain and clear leader, scoring seven goals and contributing two assists so far this league season to earn himself top spot in the Pichichi race.

He’s destined to play for a Champions League club in the near future, whether La Real make it there with him or not, but the financial health of the club means that they’re in no rush to sell.

Their squad has been assembled intelligently and prudently by sporting director Roberto Olabe and is backed by the shrewd club president Jokin Aperribay, who’s managed the club well.

La Real have shown signs of struggling to balance their European and domestic commitments in recent weeks and will be undoubted outsiders when they face United.

But it’d be foolish to count them out.

Featured image courtesy of Twitter.

Tags Europa League Real Sociedad