Real Sociedad coach Phillip Montanier is hoping his team can emulate last season's performance against Barcelona when the two sides meet in San Sebastián this weekend. The Catalans were held to a 2-2 draw in last year's fixture and Montanier told reporters in Friday's press conference that his team must try to gain a similar result on Saturday but to do so, they will need to put in a perfect game and capitalize on every mistake Barça make at Anoeta.
"In my opinion, Barcelona are the best team in the history of football - their in a gulf between my team and theirs. But before we start hypothesizing about the result, we have to play the game first. If they make two or three mistakes, we have to take advantage - just like we did last season".
Montanier added that taking on the leaders, in itself, is enough to motivate his players and for him, the game represents a great challenge. "We will be doing everything we can to take as many points as we can from this. It will be difficult but you have chances to do that in every game you play - even against a team like Barcelona", he said.
"Anything is possible. They have been incredible during the first half of the campaign and have won almost all of their away games so we will need to go flat out and perhaps become the first team to beat them. My players are excited at the prospect of taking Barça on - it's a huge challenge for them to be pitting themselves against one of the best sides in football history", Montanier continued.
The French did concede however that he has no magic recipe for beating the Blaugranas. "Since the opening day of the season, Barça have beaten every team they have faced apart from one draw at home. Every game is different and the most important thing for us that we put in the best performance possible. We will need to play a perfect game in every aspect and see how it all turns out", the coach admitted.
"It's going to be tough to pull off, but we are going to try to show why maintaining possession is important. Every team struggles against Barcelona - we have to go flat out from start to finish. It could either turn out well for us, or badly - but beating them will be a challenge. If we are presented with a 5% or 10% chance of winning, we will try".
When also asked about Víctor Valdés' decision not to renew terms with Barça, the Real Sociedad coach replied that it would benefit his team if the Azulgrana keeper were not to play this weekend. "For us it would be ideal if he didn't play, he's a great goalkeeper and if he doesn't want to play then we will be very happy but I have a feeling that he will play on Saturday. As far as his contract extension is concerned, it's a personal matter. Whatever he decides to do in 2014 is up to him and I have no particular opinion either way on the issue", he ended.
Montanier's squad list for the Barcelona reads as follows: Bravo, Zubikarai, Carlos Martínez, Dani Estrada, Mikel, Iñigo, De la Bella, José Ángel, Pardo, Illarra, Markel, Elustondo, Xabi Prieto, Vela, Ifrán, Agirretxe, Chory Castro and Griezmann.