Man Utd have a plan to clinch Europa League group win – Ten Hag

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Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag says his side "have a plan" to secure the margin of victory they need against Real Sociedad to top their Europa League group.

While a spot in the knockout stages of the competition has already been secured, United need to win by a two-goal margin to finish as Group E winners – which comes with the added benefit of avoiding a two-legged play-off against one of the eight teams to drop out of the Champions League.

Instead, group winners will resume their involvement in the Europa League from the round of 16, which would prove a valuable boost not only due to ensuring United would be a step closer to the final, but also in light of the hectic fixture schedule caused by the upcoming World Cup in Qatar.

Securing such a win is the clear target for Ten Hag and his side, who lost the reverse fixture in the opening match of the group stage.

"Obviously, it's important. We can win tomorrow night. We know what we have to do - win by a two-goal margin," he said in Wednesday's press conference.

"But if you want to win the trophy you have to win all the games, so we have to win every one.

"It's six weeks ago or so and it's a different team, not all the players then are fit. We're growing, developing, making good progress.

"We know it's difficult to win games here but we like the challenge. We know we have to win by two goals, we have a plan for that and we will do everything to get it done.

"I don't think you speak about how far you come. You can't win anything at this moment, it's game by game and we have to win every game."

While United have lost their last two matches against Spanish opponents, against Atletico Madrid in last season's Champions League and La Real earlier this campaign, they have won six of their last seven away games in the Europa League, scoring 19 goals at an average of 2.7 per game.

La Real, on the other hand, have won their last two Europa League home matches, as many wins as in their previous 10 such games in the competition (D4 L4). They last won three consecutive home fixtures in a single season in major European competitions in the 1998-99 UEFA Cup.

United will be depleted for Thursday's game, with Antony, Jadon Sancho and Anthony Martial all unavailable, though the trio could well be back soon.

"Jadon was ill, Martial is still in rehab. He did train this morning so we're going in the right direction," Ten Hag added.