Madrid, Sep 16: The city of San Sebastian is getting excited as Real Sociedad prepare to return to the Champions League 10 years after the Basque club last played in the tournament.
A lot has happened over the past 10 years including a painful spell in the Spanish second division. But last season saw Real Sociedad finish fourth in La Liga under the guidance of Philippe Montanier, who opted to leave at the end of 2012, taking up an offer to coach back in France and the club took a brave but risky decision to appoint his former assistant Jagoba Arrasate to replace him, reports Xinhua.
Arrasate may be just 35 and the second youngest coach in the Spanish top-flight but in a club that based its squad on players who have progressed through the youth system, he has the advantage of knowing those players well, having worked with them virtually all of his career.
The risk paid dividends when Real Sociedad cruised by Olympique Lyon in the play-offs to book their place in a group alongside Manchester United, Bayer Leverkusen and Shakhtar Donetsk, who visit the Anoeta Stadium Tuesday.
Real Sociedad have enjoyed a decent start to the season and are eighth in the table with five points and just one defeat to Atletico Madrid to block their copybook.
However, Europe is different and Shakhtar have a host of European experience making it into the knockouts last year before being defeated by eventual finalists Borussia Dortmund.
They are unbeaten in 27 home matches in the Ukrainian league but have only won twice in their last eight games away from home in Europe.
Real Sociedad goalkeeper Claudio Bravo believes playing the first game at home is a big advantage for his side as it ensures an impressive atmosphere in Anoeta but warned that starting their European campaign at home with a trip to Germany in the second group game, means there is pressure to get points in the bag quickly.
Striker Haris Seferovic was rested at the weekend and the recent arrival, who will partner Carlos Vela in attack, could make a big impact in the game as Arrasate looks for his side to start their European campaign with three points.