Julen Lopetegui attended the traditional pre-match press conference this Saturday afternoon ahead of tomorrow's game against Real Sociedad. The coach began with a general analysis of what he expects tomorrow in San Sebastián: 'I agree 100% with Imanol. I expect it to be like the last matches between us: both teams going for the win right from the off, constantly looking for a goal. They are one of the best teams in the league - they are very complete and are excellent up front. It will be an incredibly difficult game but we are excited for it.'
Lopetegui was also full of praise for his opposite number, as Real Sociedad's coach was for him: 'Even if they hadn't have won the Cup, Imanol's work would have still been incredible. Real have grown a lot and they have a golden generation at the club now with top players in many positions and good youth players as well. We are fully focused on preparing for the game and the physical and mental demands Real will put us under.'
Julen was asked about the importance of tomorrow's game in cementing the Champions League spot: 'I've said it many times. You look at the numbers at the end of the race - it is still ongoing and we are motivated and aware of the difficulty of every match.' Lopetegui, who delivered the 'good news' that Sergio Escudero has rejoined the squad after recovering from COVID-19, also spoke about Real Sociedad's squad: 'They have a talented squad with various options. They have particularly good midfielders and good players in defence and attack.'
'Escudero back in training is definitely good news'
Julen opted to emphasis the collective over the individual within both teams: 'I wouldn't talk about starters or substitutes, I'd talk about the team. The team is made up of 25 players who have equal importance. The focus is always on the starters but the others are also decisive. Team is the most important word.'
Finishing up, he returned to the difficulty of tomorrow's match at the Reale Arena: 'The team tries to compete and do things well. Every team has their solution to put a stop to us and sometimes we can overcome that and other times we do it less well. We have to be able to live with the less good moments. Every game is difficult and especially so tomorrow's as Real Sociedad are a very competitive team.'