Real Sociedad manager Jagoba Arrasate has urged his players to give Lionel Messi a tough night when they face Barcelona on Tuesday.
Two of Spain’s four Champions League representatives will clash in La Liga at Camp Nou, with Barca looking to continue its perfect start to the season. Ahead of the game, Arrasate was asked whether he had a specific formula in mind to stop Argentine sensation Messi, who already has nine goals for the season, and he conceded that it would be tough to put any plan into action.
“Hopefully the team can work together and make life difficult for him," Arrasate said at a press conference. “Messi is the best player in the world, and he has so many weapons in his armory. Explaining how to stop him on a white board is one thing, actually doing it on the pitch is another.”
Real Sociedad has made an unconvincing start to the new season, picking up just six points from five league games while suffering defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk in their opening Champions League encounter.
Arrasate puts the results down to a poor run of form rather than any deeper-lying issues and urged his side to go into the game against Barcelona with a positive mindset.
“We started the season well, but right now we are not in top form. However, we are happy with our defensive work. I’m sure we will regain that spark in attack," Arrasate said. “Scoring goals is the hardest thing in football – that is why strikers are more expensive. The goals will arrive sooner or later and we will give our fans plenty to shout about.
“If you sit back and defend at the Camp Nou, you may well be in for a long 90 minutes. We have to come out and show an ability to play with the ball at our feet. We can’t go there feeling like we’ve already been beaten, because we will be in for a difficult time if we do.
“We must not think that it is normal to lose. It will be a very difficult game, but if we play like we’re capable of, we can have a big say in the outcome of the game.”