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'Battling' La Real relishing Group A tests

Published: Thursday 29 August 2013, 21.47CET
Real Sociedad de Fútbol's Jagoba Arrasate spoke of an "attractive and open" section in which his side will meet Manchester United FC, Bayer 04 Leverkusen and FC Shakhtar Donetsk.
'Battling' La Real relishing Group A tests
Real Sociedad disposed of Lyon to return to the group stage for the first time since 2003 ©Getty Images
 
 
 
Published: Thursday 29 August 2013, 21.47CET

'Battling' La Real relishing Group A tests

Real Sociedad de Fútbol's Jagoba Arrasate spoke of an "attractive and open" section in which his side will meet Manchester United FC, Bayer 04 Leverkusen and FC Shakhtar Donetsk.

John Alexander, Manchester United club secretary
It's quite a start for David [Moyes] in his new career at Manchester United. It's a really exciting group. Shakhtar Donetsk have a terrific history in Europe and to have German and Spanish teams in there really makes it. 

We've not played either [Shakhtar or La Real] in European competition, so apart from that [2002] semi-final against Leverkusen and the tie the following year, it's new ground for us. When you play German and Spanish sides − and, of course, Shakhtar with their history, new stadium, atmosphere and that terrific home record − it's really going to be a challenge.

Darijo Srna, Shakhtar captain
It's a tough group. We have matches against strong teams from England, Germany and Spain. Even from the fourth pot we've got one of the hardest clubs in Real Sociedad. On the other hand, it's very exciting and you always have a chance. At Old Trafford, in front of 75,000 spectators, it will be a real feast. I also know that Bayer still haven't lost in the Bundesliga.

Serhiy Palkin, Shakhtar CEO
Manchester United are obviously favourites. The three other teams are quite equal, so it's very hard to tell who will qualify. All the sides are ambitious and overall it is a well-balanced group. The battle [for a last-16 spot] will go right down to the last matches. Shakhtar must target only victory. We sold some of our leading players and now we need to build a new team, which should be even stronger than last season. Our main goal is to reach the knockout stages. First or second – we'll see how it goes.

Rudi Völler, Leverkusen sporting director
It couldn't have turned out much worse for us really, but we're obviously happy to have drawn Manchester United – that will be a highlight for our fans. We'll be courageous and give our all to please the supporters and progress to the next round. We have nothing to fear. We know that we're underdogs, but we have nothing to lose.

Stefan Kiessling, Leverkusen striker
It's a great draw but at the same time quite difficult for us. It will be hard to advance from the group, but we're up for the challenge and will go about it full of motivation and optimism.

Simon Rolfes, Leverkusen captain
Our supporters will get to see some strong, attractive sides. Manchester United are a top European club. I really rate Sociedad, and Donetsk are so dominant in Ukraine that a lot of their focus is on Europe. We've spent a year working for these games. It's a just reward for both us and our fans.

Jagoba Arrasate, Real Sociedad coach
It's an attractive and open group, but at the same time a difficult one. Let's see if we can bring our battling spirit, which is what we will be aiming to do. Manchester United are one of the most famous teams in the game and we will all be eager to play them at Old Trafford. If we do things well, we can beat them. Shakhtar are that much more unknown, especially if you don't follow the Ukrainian league, but they have invested in good Brazilian players and they are very good technically. When they play at home they are especially strong.

Bayer Leverkusen are the classic German team who play a happy brand of football; against them we will see very open, end-to-end games. Let's see how many points we can take in this group stage as we look to qualify for the knockout rounds. Our objective is to compete at the maximum level and look to get through in second place.

Last updated: 06/09/13 0.37CET

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