Julen Lopetegui has given his pre-match press conference ahead of tomorrow's match at home to FC Salzburg, in what is the team's Champions League opener. The coach began by stating that "we're facing a very good team that combines youth, fitness and years of the same approach. They compete very well and they prepare almost exclusively for Europe because they are far superior in their league. This summer, although they were friendlies, they came out on top against FC Barcelona and Atlético de Madrid. In this group anyone could finish first and anyone could finish fourth".
LOPETEGUI: "FC SALZBURG COMBINE YOUTH, FITNESS AND YEARS OF THE SAME APPROACH"
Lopetegui was asked about one of his key players, Jules Koundé: "We talk with all the players. It's not been an easy summer for Koundé, but he's excited to compete and help us compete in all competitions. We're starting the Champions League, it's the most important tournament in the world and the hardest one to reach, because we have to do it through 38 tough matchdays. There is utmost ambition and excitement. The best therapy there is is to compete with Sevilla and to be focused on the common aim of everyone".
"Saturday was the first day we all looked each other in the eye"
"Seventeen days out of action is not desirable, but that's what we have. Saturday was the first day we all looked each other in the eye. We have to adapt quickly to this reality. We're not going to complain about anything, we're adapting to the context. The match was postponed and we've used the time we've had to prepare for such a complex match", responded the coach, when asked about the lack of a league fixture this weekend.
Lopetegui also spoke about the fitness of the Argentine internationals and three players in particular, Ocampos, Óliver Torres and Óscar: "The South Americans were tired when they arrived, like all the players who have arrived after competing. Time has passed and I think they're ready for tomorrow. Ocampos is coming back from an injury that has broken his rhythm, as has Óliver, but they are both ready and we'll see what happens tomorrow. Óscar has earned his place in the starting XI. There's a lot of competition and we always look for what's best for the team. We're very happy with him and he must keep growing, as must everyone".
"We will need that extra support from the 60% who can attend tomorrow"
"Squads are considered good or bad at the end of the season, based on performance. For me, I coach the team, and grades are given at the end. It's been a tough summer and now we want to compete in all competitions the way we want to", stated Lopetegui, when asked about his squad for the season.
To finish, the coach is happy that more fans will be able to attend the match in Nervión: "It's very important that an even higher percentage of fans are back. We are sure that the 60% will help us as if the ground was packed, because we will need that extra support".