Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has called for the Europa League knockout rounds to be played over one leg after Manchester United’s away game at Real Sociedad was moved to Turin.
The first of United’s two-legged tie against the Liga side has been moved to Italy due to current travel restrictions imposed by the Spanish government over Covid-19, preventing the team from flying in for the game without the need for quarantine.
Real Sociedad’s director of football Roberto Olabe hit out at UEFA over the ruling which saw the Spanish side have to find an alternative venue for next week’s game, claiming Manchester United had an unfair advantage – and Solskjaer agreed, adding that he would have backed it being a one-legged occasion.
Solskjaer said: “With Europe, we hope it’s going to be sustainable. Different governments and the travel in Europe is difficult. It’s not a decision we made but when one game is in a neutral venue, it’s a disadvantage to the team that doesn’t have the home game. That’s out of our hands. We can’t say we’d go to Turin and play one game, I wouldn’t mind that at all, it would be one game less.
“That’s what we did last season, we met somewhere neutral and made it a tournament. Of course, home and away – if we keep that going – we do have a little advantage and a disadvantage for Sociedad to have their home game in Turin. For me, I wouldn’t stand in the way.”
While the first leg, which should have been played in San Sebastian, will be played at the Allianz Arena in Turin, Juventus’ home ground, the second leg will still be played at Old Trafford.
Government ruling in the United Kingdom means elite sports people are exempt from the quarantine restrictions which are imposed on travellers flying into the UK from abroad. The exemption allows Solskjaer’s side to travel to Italy for the first leg and not have to quarantine on their return and similarly allows Sociedad to come across for the game.
A statement from UEFA after the venue change was announced read: “UEFA would like to thank Real Sociedad and Manchester United for their close cooperation and assistance in finding a solution to the issue at hand, as well as the Italian Football Federation and Juventus for their support and agreeing to host the match in question.”