Draw looks the value as Sociedad and Shakhtar kick off Group A

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An impressive 2012/13 season saw Real Sociedad claim fourth spot in La Liga and book a return to the Champions League for the first time in nine years. But with European mainstays Shakhtar Donetsk their first opponents in Group A, things won’t be easy.

Drawn in a group with Manchester United and Bayer Leverkusen, both sides will fancy their chances of progressing to the next stages of the competition. Therefore, for the Ukrainian visitors, avoiding defeat could be key, with the draw priced at 23/10 looking very appealing.

Both outfits felt the wrath of the world’s big spenders in the summer. Sociedad lost star midfielder Asier Illarramendi to Real Madrid, while Shakthar shed Fernandinho to Manchester City and Henrikh Mkhitaryan to Dortmund, for a combined fee of around €67m.

But by bringing in the Brazilian quartet of Bernard, Fred, Fernando and Wellington Nem for the total of €60m, the Ukrainian champs look to have invested that money very wisely.

Mircea Lucescu’s side have lost just four times in their last 30 competitive fixtures. Factoring in that two of those defeats have been against Juventus and Borussia Dortmund, they are a tough team to beat.

For those that fancy them to record a win in San Sebastián, a price of 9/4 may be tempting, but with a patchy away record, it would be no surprise to see them take a cautious approach here.

They do have the benefit of an in-form striker in Luiz Adriano. Partnered with former Arsenal hitman, Eduardo Da Silva, he has netted five times already this season and looks a good price at 6/1 to open the scoring on Tuesday.

The man heading the first goal scorer market is another former Gunners striker. Sociedad’s Carlos Vela (5/1) scored both goals in their qualifying second leg against Lyon, but a very average career return in Europe would be a worry to anyone looking to back him to break the deadlock.

With neither club having managed to string together a sequence of wins recently, and defeat being an early dent to their Champions League hopes, this is sure to be a tight affair, with the draw looking a good value bet.

All odds and markets correct as off the date of publishing

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.