It is all square at two goals apiece halfway through this UEFA Europa League knockout round play-off as Real Sociedad and Leipzig face off again in northern Spain looking for the win that will take them through to the round of 16.
• Real Sociedad finished as runners-up in UEFA Europa League Group B, defeating PSV Eindhoven 3-0 in San Sebastián on Matchday 6 to leapfrog their opponents into second place behind Monaco and finish with nine points. Leipzig dropped out of the UEFA Champions League after losing their first three matches, but wins in the last two enabled them to pip Club Brugge to third place in a section dominated by Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.
• Home side Leipzig twice came from behind to salvage a 2-2 draw on 17 February in their first UEFA encounter with Real Sociedad. The Spanish side led through French defender Robin Le Normand’s early strike before Christopher Nkunku headed his eighth European goal of the season to bring the hosts level. The sides then traded penalties in the second half, Mikel Oyarzabal converting for La Real before Leipzig substitute Emil Forsberg struck from the spot eight minutes from time to salvage a draw.
• This is Real Sociedad’s tenth UEFA encounter with Bundesliga opposition and fifth in San Sebastián, where their record is W2 D1 L1, the defeat having come in the most recent contest, 0-1 against Bayer Leverkusen in the 2013/14 UEFA Champions League group stage. Their record in two-legged ties against German teams is W1 L2, though this is the first since a penalty shoot-out defeat by Stuttgart in the 1988/89 UEFA Cup quarter-final, the Basque side having eliminated Köln from the same competition a round earlier.
• Leipzig have happy memories of their first – and until this tie only – European match against Spanish opposition, a 2-1 victory over Atlético de Madrid in neutral Lisbon in the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League quarter-final that was secured by goals from Dani Olmo and, in the 88th minute, Tyler Adams.
• In addition to winning the delayed 2019/20 Spanish Cup final against local rivals Athletic Club last season, Real Sociedad finished fifth in the 2020/21 Liga – one place higher than the previous campaign – to secure back-to-back participations in the group stage of the UEFA Europa League. Imanol Alguacil’s side were second to Napoli in their section last term before going out to eventual runners-up Manchester United.
• La Real drew three of their first four games in UEFA Europa League Group B during the autumn – 2-2 in Eindhoven, 1-1 at home to Monaco and, after winning 1-0 at Sturm Graz, 1-1 also at home to the Austrian side. They then lost 2-1 in Monaco before two-goal Oyarzabal inspired them to that all-important last-day 3-0 win at home to PSV.
• The Basque club are competing in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase for the third time. On both previous occasions they also came through the group stage as runners-up but progressed no further than the round of 32, losing to Salzburg in 2017/18 (2-2 h, 1-2 a) as well as Manchester United last term, when they went down 4-0 in neutral Turin before a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford.
• Real Sociedad are undefeated in their last five European matches in San Sebastián (W2 D3). Their last win there in a springtime continental fixture was 1-0 against Stuttgart in the second leg of that 1988/89 UEFA Cup quarter-final – before the visitors prevailed on penalties.
• The Spanish side have won all three UEFA ties in which they drew the first leg away, though the last two instances occurred in successive UEFA Cup ties 42 years ago – in the first round against Újpest (1-1 a, 1-0 h) and the second against Zbrojovka Brno (1-1 a, 2-1 h). This is the first tie in which they have drawn the first away leg 2-2.
• Second in the Bundesliga in 2020/21, their joint highest finish, this is Leipzig’s fifth European campaign, all in the past five seasons. They reached the UEFA Champions League round of 16 last term, where they were eliminated by Liverpool, having been semi-finalists, also under coach Julian Nagelsmann, the season before.
• New boss Jesse Marsch was in charge for the start of this season’s UEFA Champions League campaign, but defeats at Manchester City (3-6), at home to Club Brugge (1-2) and in Paris (2-3) scuppered their chances of a third successive knockout phase appearance. A 2-2 home draw with the French side was then followed by a 5-0 win in Belgium and a closing 2-1 home success against the English club, for which interim boss Achim Beierlorzer was in charge before handing over the reins to Domenico Tedesco.
• This is the German side’s third UEFA Europa League participation and second in the knockout phase. They were beaten in the quarter-finals by Marseille in 2017/18, their maiden European campaign, having crossed over mid-term from the UEFA Champions League and eliminated Napoli and Zenit – but failed to progress beyond the group stage the following season.
• The German side’s away record in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase is W1 D1 L1. They had lost three European away games in succession, conceding 11 goals, before posting their biggest European win in Bruges on Matchday 5.
• This is the first European tie in which Leipzig have drawn the first leg at home.
UEFA Europa League squad changes
In: Rafinha (Paris Saint-Germain, loan), Naïs Djouahra, Carlos Fernández
Out: Aritz Arambarri, Cristo Romero, Germán Valera
In: Philipp Tschauner
Out: Brian Brobbey (Ajax, loan), Ilaix Moriba (Valencia, loan), Joscha Wosz (Hallescher FC, loan)
Links and trivia
• Alexander Sørloth, who completed the scoring for Real Sociedad in their Matchday 6 win against PSV, is on loan to the Spanish club from Leipzig.
• Three Real Sociedad players have all played in Germany for Borussia Dortmund – Adnan Januzaj (2015), Mikel Merino (2016/17) and Alexander Isak (2017/18). Only Merino played in the first leg.
• Leipzig’s Portuguese international striker André Silva scored nine Spanish Liga goals in 27 appearances for Sevilla in 2018/19.
• There are four Spaniards in the Leipzig squad – Olmo, Josep Martínez, Angeliño and Hugo Novoa – though none have featured in the Liga.
• Olmo is a current Spanish national team-mate of Oyarzabal and Merino, while Leipzig’s Forsberg plays alongside Isak for Sweden.
• Angeliño and Real Sociedad’s David Silva were team-mates at Manchester City in 2019/20.
• Oyarzabal’s penalty in the first leg was the 700th goal scored by a Spanish team in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final – the most of any nation, exactly 100 more than second-placed England.
• Real Sociedad’s record in two UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W0 L2:
2-4 v Stuttgart, 1988/89 UEFA Cup quarter-final
3-4 v Partizan, 1990/91 UEFA Cup second round
• Leipzig have yet to feature in a UEFA penalty shoot-out.
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