21/10/2013 21:20, Report by Tim Oscroft
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Preview: Real Sociedad

Rennes having guided the club back into the Champions League for the first time in a decade. Former United defender Laurent Blanc was linked with the post, but Arrasate got the nod. As a player, the 35-year-old plied his trade as a striker at various clubs around the Basque region of his native Spain.

Star man: Antoine Griezmann scored a spectacular goal to help secure La Real’s progress into the group phase of the Champions League. The 22-year-old Frenchman’s mid-air scissors kick in the 2-0 qualifying win over Lyon in August was reminiscent of Wayne Rooney’s strike in the Manchester derby at Old Trafford in 2011, and showed why a number of big clubs, including Arsenal and AC Milan, were said to be sniffing around him in the last transfer window.

Quote/Unquote: "I used to have an Eric Cantona shirt - he was my favourite player. They are a mythical club, one of the biggest in the world, and the stadium has always really attracted me as well. The players, fans and everyone in San Sebastian were all very excited to be drawn against Manchester United. It will be a beautiful thing to play against them." - Real Sociedad skipper Xabi Prieto.

Referee: Bas Nijhuis was the man in charge when two Wayne Rooney goals helped England beat Andorra 6-0 at Wembley in 2009. Two years later the Dutch official sent off AZ 67 Alkmaar goalkeeper Esteban Alvarado after he had kicked an Ajax supporter who had attacked him. Alkmaar walked off in protest, leading to the abandonment of the game, and the red card was later rescinded.

Sub-plot: United have won eight, drawn nine and lost four in 21 meetings with Spanish opposition at Old Trafford in all European competitions.

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