Julen Lopetegui in the press room
First team


The coach rued Lamela's serious injury and opted to wait until the cup came round again to evaluate the draw against Andratx

Julen Lopetegui appeared before the media this Friday afternoon to discuss tomorrow's game against Villarreal. However, the first question concerned the recent cup draw which pits us against Andratx: "I've just been told and we will worry about it when the cup comes around. They knocked out a team from the second division and that shows you the magic of the cup, but we'll worry about it closer to the time." Julen then went on to talk about the squad: "We've had very little training, mainly recovery work, and we have some injuries. We'll see who's available tomorrow. Not even 72 hours will have passed between the matches and we'll see tomorrow what we can do with the squad and starting eleven."

As could be expected, he was asked about Lamela's injury: "We're so sad because he is such an important player for us. We thought it wasn't that serious but it turns out it is and all we can do is wish him the quickest possible recovery, but it will take time. It's another injury added to what we have and we have to trust in the players we have at our disposition and find solutions. We trust in the alternatives we have. We will have to put out the best possible starting eleven as Villarreal are a top team. They can attack and defend in a variety of ways and they want to dominate the game, just like us. I'm expecting a tough, intense game. Villarreal play very well and have played better than some top teams. They have great players up front and they are very solid at the back. They are a complete team and they will push us to the limit. There are few teams with such strength and alternatives - they have players who start for Spain."

Salzburg comes around in a few days, but that is a while away yet for Lopetegui: "We don't look ahead - we focus on what's in front of us right now. There are three league points at stake against a top opponent and we have to devote all our focus to it. We are aware of the fixture list but we also know the only way to do this is by focusing on one game at a time." The fixture list has given us a demanding December: "We have to adapt to the things that aren't under our control. There's no other way. I don't have an opinion on it - the fixture list is what it is and we have to adapt to it. We have had various injuries. Lamela went down in a practice game during the international break, we thought it would be minor and look what happened."

To finish up, after praising Unai Emery, he spoke about the academy players who regularly train with the first team: "They are helping us. We need them and we're paying attention to their development to try and help them as well. Breaking down this door is tough - but it is possible."

Communication Department