Julen Lopetegui

JULEN LOPETEGUI: 'REAL SOCIEDAD ARE IMPROVING YEAR ON YEAR WHILE MAINTAINING THEIR ESSENCE'

The coach, who admitted he will always hold tomorrow's rivals 'in his heart', is wary of Alguacil's side despite their injuries

Julen Lopetegui gave the traditional pre-match press conference this Saturday afternoon ahead of tomorrow's clash in San Sebastián against Real Sociedad. The coach spoke of his expectations for the match against a special opponent for him: 'I'm expecting a tough, complicated match against a team who in the last three years have done some magnificent work - improving year on year while maintaining their essence with young and academy players. What they have done this year is worth looking at with promoting two players from the academy and beginning their adventure in the Europa League. It's a result of the hard work and potential they have. They are a tough team who just put in a good performance against PSV and we are preparing for a real clash.'

Real Sociedad come into the match with various injuries: 'They have a big squad and I'm sure they will have strong alternatives. Having their academy in the Second Division allows them some other alternatives and I'm sure they will have big, talented players out there tomorrow.' Sociedad also come into the match with less rest: 'It's the start of the season and you have to play the Europa League on Sundays. Coaches adapt to that and sometimes you have three days between matches and other times four. What I'm sure of is that tomorrow we will be facing a strong, structured team who have been so impressive over the last few seasons.'

Regarding Sevilla's squad, Julen said we will have to wait until the last moment to know: 'We had some situations in training and we have to wait until tomorrow. It's important to have a big squad for these kinds of situations. Jules trained today, he will travel and we will see if he can help us out in the match.'

There is a lot of talk about Lamela potentially starting: 'You guys always give more importance to those who start, but it's always been the case, and even more so now with five substitutes, that every player on the pitch matters. Everyone is in a position to help us and in each match we evaluate what the team needs.' Finally, Julen said it's not time yet to look ahead to Valencia: 'There's no other way. If you want to ride two bicycles at the same time you'll fall over. Real Sociedad are more than strong enough to warrant our entire attention. I supported Real when I was younger, they will always be in my heart but we are professionals here and my heart has been red and white for some time now.'

Communication Department