Real Sociedad chief insists Man United have an ‘unfair’ advantage after their home leg of Europa League last-32 tie was moved to Turin due to Covid travel rules… but Red Devils will still host LaLiga side at Old Trafford
- Real Sociedad meet Manchester United in the Europa League knockout stages
- The first leg has been moved from Spain to Turin in Italy due to Covid travel rules
- However, the return leg will still be played at United’s Old Trafford a week later
- La Real chief Roberto Olabe says the return leg should also be at a neutral venue
Real Sociedad’s director of football Roberto Olabe has hit out at UEFA after they moved the first leg of their Europa League clash with Manchester United to Turin – with the return leg still being played at Old Trafford.
The two sides were due to meet at Real Sociedad’s Anoeta Stadium in San Sebastian next Thursday but strict travel restrictions in Spain will prevent Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side from travelling to the Basque region of the country.
Current travel restrictions in Spain, implemented due to the ongoing battle against Covid-19, mean that visitors from the United Kingdom are currently not permitted to enter the country.
Real Sociedad chief Roberto Olabe slams UEFA for moving the first leg of their clash vs United
As a result, UEFA confirmed on Monday that the first leg would instead be played at Juventus’ Allianz Stadium in Italy.
However, the decision has been labelled by Olabe as ‘unfair’ as he claims United still get their home advantage by playing at the Theatre of Dreams the week after.
‘I would like the return to be also on a neutral ground or for UEFA to appoint a single venue for a one-game tie as it did last year,’ Olabe told Diario Vasco.
‘It does not seem coherent to me that as the home team, we play in a neutral field and as a visitor, we do it there, but that’s the way things are.’
Despite what would be perceived as a disadvantage, Olabe believes his side have a good chance of knocking the Red Devils out of their second European competition this season.
The first leg has been moved from Spain to Allianz Stadium in Turin due to Covid travel rules
However, Old Trafford will stage the return leg a week later, which is deemed unfair by Olabe
He added: ‘I’m very excited, and yes, I think we can eliminate them. However, Manchester United have one of the most complete squads in the world, with an exceptional level of players.’
Spain is on a ‘red list’ of countries drawn up by the UK Government, which will heavily restrict movement into and out of those nations.
On Tuesday, Spain recorded more than three millions positive Covid cases, while also registering 766 deaths in the past 24 hours – their highest daily death toll of the current third wave to hit the country.
Of those three million cases nationwide, 63,000 of those cases have resulted in death.
There are also 550,000 active cases in Madrid at the time of writing.
The first legs of Liverpool and Manchester City’s Champions League ties against RB Leipzig and Borussia Monchengladbach have been moved to Budapest given strict travel restrictions imposed in Germany.
Olabe believes Real Sociedad have a good chance of knocking the Red Devils out of Europe
The German government has banned most foreign travel into the country due to new Covid variants and sporting fixtures are not deemed as special circumstances.
City’s last-16 tie with the Bundesliga outfit will now take place at the Puskas Arena in Budapest on February 24 after talks between the two clubs.
Hungary’s national stadium is also hosting Liverpool’s clash with Julian Nagelsmann’s RB Leipzig next Tuesday.
Furthermore, Arsenal have also seen the first leg of their Europa League last-32 match moved for the same reasons.
It was announced that the Gunners will take on Benfica in Rome next week.