Manchester United will once again turn to the Champions League for solace on Wednesday when Real Sociedad visit Old Trafford in the third round of Group A matches.
United slipped up in the Premier League again at the weekend, conceding an 89th-minute equaliser in a 1-1 draw at home to Southampton that left the defending champions eight points below leaders Arsenal in eighth place.
Manager David Moyes continues to face questions about his suitability to succeed the great Alex Ferguson, but in Europe, at least, he has been spared a bumpy ride so far.
United top the group after a 4-2 win at home to Bayer Leverkusen and a 1-1 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk and approach the double-header with Real Sociedad knowing that a pair of positive results could leave them on the brink of the knockout phase.
“If we could win this one, it would give us a strong position in the group,” Moyes said.
Real Sociedad secured their place in the continent’s premier tournament with a stunning fourth-place finish in La Liga season, before eliminating French group-phase perennials Lyon in the qualifying rounds.
Their form has deserted them since, however, as they lost both their opening group matches and had gone nine games without a win in all competitions prior to Saturday’s 2-1 victory at Valencia.