Xabi Prieto: We need a result at United
ESPN FC: Underachieving United?
Xabi Prieto has said Real Sociedad’s players know that Wednesday’s Champions League group game at Manchester United is “almost life or death” for their chances of progressing to the knockout stages.
Sociedad fans’ excitement at playing in the competition has not been tempered by defeats at home to Shakhtar Donetsk and away at Bayer Leverkusen, and at least 6,000 are making to the trip to Old Trafford.
Prieto said he and his teammates knew the match against the English champions would be another huge test and were aware a third straight loss would see them more or less out of the competition.
“We are really looking forward to this journey,” he said. “Many fans are coming, and I hope we can have something to celebrate together.
“We know they are a huge and scary opponent, but also that if we lose it will be very difficult for us to qualify, so I hope we can play a great game. It is almost life or death -- if we lose it will be very difficult for us, so we need to get a point at least to stay alive in the Champions League.”
The Basque playmaker would not be drawn on whether he thought United’s stumbles so far under new manager David Moyes offered an opportunity for his side.
“It could be they are not playing as well as before,” he said. “If we think they are bad, they could give us a good fright ourselves.”
Prieto, 30, who returned from injury to help La Real to a first win since August in Saturday’s match at Valencia, said he was ready to start should coach Jagoba Arrasate give him the nod.
“I wanted to be back sooner -- when I got injured I had in my head the game at Valencia, that I could play some minutes there,” he said. “But I am very happy now, excited to be able to travel to Manchester. I am ready to play, maybe not for the 90 minutes, but the leg is good. I will respect Arrasate’s decision.”