BARRY ROBSON is confident a raucous full house at Pittodrie tonight can inspire Aberdeen to a European performance that will rank alongside any in the club’s history.
The Dons certainly need something special to overturn a two-goal deficit from last week’s first leg against Spanish side Real Sociedad.
Before a ball was even kicked in the tie, their greatest ever player, Willie Miller, claimed progressing would equal his side’s achievement in winning the 1983 European Cup Winners’ Cup.
It is a suggestion that looks far less fanciful given the way the La Liga team dominated what was their first competitive match of the season.
Robson admits as much but, irrational as it might seem against opponents who regularly travel to the Camp Nou and Bernabeu on league business, he believes the atmosphere inside a packed Pittodrie could play a key role in making it happen.
The midfielder knows from personal experience the difference a passionate Scottish crowd can make to a team from many magical European nights at Celtic Park and is hoping for the same this evening.
“Real Sociedad are a top quality team but I have been in European games before where we have been underdogs and ended coming out on top,” Robson explained.
“I think we still have a great chance with a full house at Pittodrie. Hopefully, we can get an early goal and we can spook them a bit. People have seen it for years that Celtic and Rangers got that extra boost when playing at home in the Champions League so why not here?
“We have the crowd behind us and that will give us adrenaline and that does makes a difference. This has been a special place for European nights over the years and this is a game we can bring that buzz back and maybe cause an upset.
“It would certainly be a huge scalp for us as a club. I heard Willie Miller saying it would rank up there with anything they achieved in the eighties if we could overcome a team like this.
“If we can get a goal and let them know they are in the game then it could be quite an interesting night.”
The former Scotland international admits the defeat in the Anoeta Stadium was a particularly painful experience for the younger players at the club.
However, he expects them to emerge stronger for the experience after suffering something similar on his Champions League debut for Celtic against Barcelona six years ago.
Robson scored, only for the team to lose 3-2 after a Thierry Henry goal and Lionel Messi double for an opposition that also contained Deco, Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto’o.
It was the sort of education he benefited from and believes the exciting young Aberdeen players will also prove to be fast and willing learners.
He added: “The biggest thing for me is that a lot of the players here will have learned a lot from the other night. They will have come away from the game realising how good players at this level are.
“It is a huge learning curve for a lot of the younger players and that can only be a good thing for them. I remember my first Champions League European night was against Barcelona and it was a real baptism of fire.
“It was all new to me but as the game wore on, I felt more comfortable with it and the rest of the boys said the same. Every game I learned and got better and by the end of it, I was enjoying them. That is what they are like.”
Real Sociedad will remain in Aberdeen until Saturday evening to continue their preparations for the new season in Spain which is still a fortnight away. They then move south to play Newcastle United on Sunday and Chelsea at Stamford Bridge next Tuesday, but things haven’t been entirely smooth so far.
Their manager was far from impressed with a 3-1 defeat by local second division rivals Alaves last Sunday and his players have a point to prove at Pittodrie.
Defender Jon Ansotegi admitted as much when he said: “We lost 3-1 to Alaves and need to take a good hard look at ourselves to see what we did wrong and rectify it.
“At the Anoeta we saw a Real Sociedad side that played well and created a lot of chances. We have to continue along the same lines in the return leg.
“If we play with the same desire and the same intensity, I think we can beat Aberdeen.
“If you don’t give everything you’ve got then a team like Alaves or any other side can make life very difficult for you.”