Julen Lopetegui has given his first pre-match press conference of the season, ahead of the season opener at home to Rayo Vallecano on Sunday night. The coach began by highlighting the team's excitement on the eve of the match: "I'm very happy to see you all here. Our holidays are over, and we've tried to get the team ready in the best way possible. We're very excited about this scenario, where getting three points tomorrow is just as important as getting three points in upcoming matches. We're keen to start, of course". When asked about future moves in the transfer market, he stressed the importance of tomorrow's clash: "The league season is starting and I have a fantastic idea, which is focusing on the match tomorrow. Everything else is secondary when the competition starts and that's where our energy lies. As a well-trained, newly-promoted team, Rayo will force us to compete well. That's one quirk, with the season starting before the transfer window shuts".
LOPETEGUI: "AS A NEWLY-PROMOTED TEAM, RAYO WILL FORCE US TO COMPETE WELL"
The coach will wait until the day of the clash before checking the availability of his players and their fitness: "Tomorrow you will all see a little of those who are available and we will try to pick the best team possible. The difficulties are part of the circumstances and those who are available are the most important tomorrow, and we wish a speedy recovery to those who aren't. This is all part of our work". Another circumstance to bear in mind is the heatwave, but Lopetegui downplayed this, instead focusing on the opponents and the return of fans as a positive thing: "The heat is another circumstance that we can't control, this is part of the league season, it's a marathon, and we have to compete without focusing on the context. Rayo are a tough opponent, newly-promoted teams are very dangerous and we have to prepare ourselves mentally to respond to this match. We're very happy that the fans are back, even if it is a smaller number than what we would all like, when I watch matches from other leagues with full stadiums, we get teary-eyed because we want the Sevillistas to be with us".
"We're very happy that the fans are back, even if it is a smaller number than what we would all like"
Julen then went into more detail about Rayo Vallecano: "We have to focus on the reality of tomorrow's match, they have a good coach. They're a recognisable team, they have pace on the wings, depth, and a very good player in Trejo. We'll have to be at our best and we have to prepare to overcome these difficulties". He also praised the academy players' effort in preseason, stating that "they will be close throughout the year, they were at a good level". Regarding a possible title challenge, he said the team will take it one game at a time: "Our motto is that we have to fight for what we have in front of us. Tomorrow we could get three important points in different circumstances. That's the maths that I believe in, lots of things will happen throughout the season, and what we must do is build a good, powerful group".
Lopetegui then spoke about some names in particular, starting with Bryan Gil: "We had high hopes for Bryan, but the club's objectives take priority and we have to accept the needs that may arise and adapt to that reality". Attentions then turned to new signings Dmitrovic and Lamela: "Marko has trained and adapted well to the group, he's in very good shape and he'll help us have competition. As for Lamela, he's trying to adapt and get into the rhythm of the team, by overcoming all situations and adapting to the script". He then spoke about the latest signing, Montiel: "We're happy with the arrival of Montiel, he's in a good moment and has a very good future. He will help us have competition, something that is vital for any team".
The coach finished on a personal note, speaking about what it means to be at the helm for a third season: "I'm approaching this season with excitement, and with the same butterflies in my stomach. The season ahead is always the most difficult, and we have to prepare well".