Real Sociedad attackers Antoine Griezmann and Carlos Vela have spoken of their excitement at the prospect of playing against Manchester United at Old Trafford, however coach Jagoba Arrasate has reminded his players that to focus on getting a much-needed win from Wednesday’s Champions League encounter.
La Real’s players and fans were overjoyed when August’s comfortable play-off win over Lyon returned them to the competition after a decade away, but defeats in their first two Group A games at home to Shakhtar Donetsk and away at Bayer Leverkusen dampened the mood somewhat.
The chance to take on the reigning English champions at their historic home has raised excitement levels again around the San Sebastian club however.
France under-21 international Griezmann told Marca that he had only previously been to Old Trafford as a fan and was looking forward to taking to the turf on Wednesday. “When you get into the Champions League you think about visiting mythical stadiums like Manchester United’s,” Griezmann said.
“I was there as a fan last Christmas, to see Manchester United-Newcastle. It was a surprise trip for my brother, who is a big United fan. This time I will go out onto the pitch with a La Real jersey on.”
Griezmann accepted that his side were underdogs for the game, but recalled how they beat Barcelona in La Liga last season and suggested they could upset the odds again.
“In football you never know what can happen, but we know it will be a very difficult game,” he said. “I hope it goes well for us, and we give everything to get three very important points. It is not a final but, if we win, we will be back in the fight to make the last 16, that is what we must do. This team has beaten Barcelona, so we can beat anyone.”
Vela, who played for Arsenal at Old Trafford in the 2009 Champions League semi-final second leg, told UEFA.com he was looking forward to another visit. “Knowing what Manchester United and their stadium represents, that's the game the team is most looking forward to, as well as the fans and everyone else," Vela said.
Sociedad coach Arrasate agreed at his pre-match news conference that the game was huge for his side, but said that once the whistle goes his players will need to be focused on getting the win they need to get back into contention to qualify from the group.
“Playing in this tournament is a prize, but we are not going to settle for that,” Arrasate said. “We know this is a historic stadium but our intention is to go out to win the game. It is a mythical stage, but once you are out on the pitch it is just one more game, and we will have 6,000 or 7,000 of our fans supporting us.
“Once the referee starts the game I will concentrate on giving instructions, and the players on winning. We cannot forget that we have zero points and we need to win.”