Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes will not park the bus against Real Sociedad in the Europa League third qualifying round in San Sebastian on Thursday.
The Dons’ hopes of victory have increased as the Spaniards are close to selling France international midfielder Antoine Griezmann to La Liga champions Atletico Madrid for £25million while Mexican attacker Carlos Vela missed Saturday’s 1-0 friendly win in Holland against Nijmegen and the former Arsenal player is not expected to be fit for Thursday.
Goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, who impressed for Chile in the World Cup finals in Brazil, has already been sold to Barcelona for £12million but the Spaniards will still pose a huge threat. Real Sociedad manager Jagoba Arrasate, who watched Aberdeen’s Europa League win against Groningen, will not repeat the Dutch side’s mistake of underestimating Aberdeen and said: “We must be careful, especially in our home game, because they are dangerous away. They are strong and powerful and they were very consistent defensively.
“Looking at their results, Aberdeen seem to be better away than on home soil. I said after the draw we would have rather played the Dutch team because Aberdeen are physically tougher than them and we have struggled against that style. They will be a hard team to break down.”
McInnes knows the measure of the task awaiting his side and said: “They have players of a very high standard and it will take a huge effort for us to get close to them, but we identified the better Groningen players and worked very hard to keep them quiet. It will have to be the same again against Real Sociedad.
“But we have to be positive. We have only conceded one goal in four Europa League matches but we will not be all about defending against Real Sociedad, we have to find a way to cause them problems, and we do have the players who can do that.”
Real Sociedad midfielder Markel Bergara fears the match may have come too soon for his team and said: “The Aberdeen team knows how to exploit its strengths to the maximum. They are obviously a very good side and they are competitive.
“We are at a disadvantage because this game has come so soon into the season. We’ve only been in training for just over a week and have such a big game to play.”
McInnes is relishing the challenge of facing a side which finished seventh in La Liga last season and added: “They are a very good side who will be very well organised, but this is a tremendous match for the players and the supporters.”