The Nigeria international has barely spent nine days in the Basque country, but he is already up against a nine-year jinx that has held the San Sebastian club back against the English giants
Manchester United are clear favourites to secure the win and bag all three points at stake when they host Real Sociedad at Old Trafford in a matchday one fixture of this season’s Europa League.
After tumbling to early defeats at the hands of Brighton & Hove Albion and Brentford, the Red Devils have displayed new-found confidence and swagger in recent weeks.
Manager Erik Ten Hag has guided Man United to impressive victories over Liverpool, Southampton, Leicester City, and Arsenal.
And United appear set to make it five wins on the bounce and add Real Sociedad to that list of conquered oppositions.
Can Real Sociedad stand up to this formidable English foe?
It is a tough ask to expect Real Sociedad to head up to Old Trafford and beat 20-time Premier League champions Man United.
In four previous meetings between the two teams, the Spaniards have not managed a win, losing twice and drawing the other two.
In football, if you do not score, you cannot win.
It then becomes more disturbing that Real Sociedad have never scored against the Red Devils – home or away – since their first meeting in October 2013, nine years ago.
That barren La Real run has not been because of a lack of quality strikers.
The San Sebastian club had Carlos Vela and Antoine Griezmann in 2013. Last year, Real boasted Mikel Oyarzabal, Adnan Januzaj, and Alexander Isak.
Still, the Spanish La Liga campaigners could not breach the Red Devils’ rearguard.
Can Sadiq break that nine-year club curse?
Real Sociedad signed Umar Sadiq – one of Nigeria’s finest – last week as a direct replacement for Alexander Isak, who earlier moved to Newcastle United.
The Super Eagles striker was a consistent goalscorer for Almeria before La Real broke the bank to snap him up on transfer deadline day.
Sadiq instantly showed the stuff he was made of on his debut for the White and Blues, coming off the bench to head home the equaliser in the 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid.
While United’s defence has shown more solidity in recent weeks, Erik Ten Hag’s men should be wary of a man who netted 43 goals in 84 appearances for Almeria.
Given that most of that haul was struck in the Segunda Division, Sadiq can still lay claim to three goals in four La Liga games – in his first-ever month in the Primeira Division. Sadiq has scored against every team he has faced this term, bar Real Madrid.
Again, this is not Sadiq’s first outing in the Europa League, and he was not goal shy in previous appearances.
The Nigerian forward has four goals and one assist in six matches in Europe’s second-tier club competition to underline his all-round ability.
Admittedly, Sadiq did not find the target on the two occasions he faced Manchester United in this competition in 2019 while representing Serbian side Partizan Belgrade. Partizan lost home (1-0) and away (3-0) to the Red Devils.
It is, however, important to note that Sadiq has improved significantly from the player he was two years ago. Ask any Glasgow Rangers fan near you.
Man United will likely be too strong for Real Sociedad on Thursday. But it will not surprise many to see La Real’s record signing get his name on the scorer’s chart and help end a curse that had hung in the air for nine years.