Sturm Graz vs Real Sociedad
Out-of-sorts Sturm Graz will take on La Liga high-flyers Real Sociedad at Merkur-Arena, looking to pick up their first points in this season’s UEFA Europa League.
Sturm Graz’s Europa League campaign has gone from bad to worse, as they went on from a narrow 1-0 away loss to Monaco to a dreadful 4-1 home defeat to PSV Eindhoven in the last round. Having headed into the international break suffering two consecutive defeats, the hosts got back on track at the weekend with a 1-0 home win over Ried in the Austrian Bundesliga. That success comes in handy, as the Austrians hope to snap a six-game losing streak in the Europa League, qualifiers excluded. They have netted just three goals in that six-game run while conceding 16 in return. However, their ‘bounce-back’ efforts face a stern test, considering they have lost all four European match-ups against Spanish opponents to date, letting in a staggering 18 goals across those clashes.
In the meantime, the visitors have played out two scoring draws at the beginning of their Europa League group stage campaign and may need all three points in their first-ever meeting with Sturm to boost their qualification hopes. Curiously, ‘La Real’ have drawn each of their last four Europa League games on foreign soil and could become the first side to make it five in a row in the competition’s history. But Real Sociedad will take the field in high spirits as they are unbeaten in their last ten competitive matches on the trot (W6, D4), a run that saw them return six clean sheets. Yet, Sociedad’s recent memories of a European match-up against Austrian opposition are not fond, as they were eliminated by RB Salzburg in the 2017/18 Europa League round of 16.