Aberdeen v Real Sociedad: Dons can learn from loss

Aberdeen's Mark Reynolds makes his way onto the pitch in San Sebastian. Picture: SNS
Aberdeen's Mark Reynolds makes his way onto the pitch in San Sebastian. Picture: SNS
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ABERDEEN defender Mark Reynolds believes the lessons learned by the Pittodrie side in their Europa League humbling by Real Sociedad can held propel them towards a successful season.

Derek McInnes’ side were fortunate to escape with just a 2-0 loss from the first leg in San Sebastian against the Basque side who were simply a class above their Scottish visitors.

Aberdeen are still in with an outside chance of turning the tie round, but will need to significantly raise their game to even compete with Spanish high-fliers on Thursday.

It was a difficult evening for 
Aberdeen, who found it impossible to live with the side which finished seventh in La Liga last season.

But Reynolds reckons the Dons will gain from their experience.

He said: “There are things we can take from the game. We won’t face anything like that quality domestically this season. They are a top side and they have got top players.

“It’s a big learning curve for us, but there were times I thought we coped well with it. But their quality showed through in the end. It was hard work. We knew it would be a tough tie and a step up from what we faced in the last round. It was just what we expected – their passing and movement was unbelievable. It was a tough shift.

“The first 20 minutes I thought we did quite well. We knocked the ball about, but they started pinching it off us and it dented the confidence a wee bit.

“We soaked up a lot of pressure but we limited them to half chances. But a couple of moments of slack play cost us. That was the disappointing thing, both goals could have been avoided. But that’s what can happen at this level and you allow good players to play.

“They had so much movement, they had players who were sacrificing themselves to make space to play.”

The enormous gulf in class between La Liga and the Scottish Premiership was brutally illustrated on Thursday.

Sociedad have just forked out £8 million for long-term Celtic target Alfred Finnbogason from the Dutch side Heerenveen and it was always going to be massive ask for the side that finished third in Scotland last season.

Reynolds admitted: “I don’t think it’s impossible to compete, but it is a hard task. You could see their quality shining through. They have only been back for three weeks and only played a couple of games and they are already at that level.

“You’re up against top class 
athletes but we knew that would be the case.

“We showed our fitness and it was almost a bit of a leveller for us.

“We were sharp enough to keep pace with them but they had so much possession it was difficult for us to do much when we didn’t have the ball.”

But Reynolds, who was called into the Scotland squad at the end of last season, still thinks his side can stun the Spaniards next week at a packed Pittodrie and reach the play-off round of the Europa League.

He said: “It was hard to take and it’s a massive task ahead of us now. We showed last season that we never say never and an early goal could change everything,

“It’s a massive game. Hopefully, we can give a better account of ourselves with the ball. We need to limit their chances but we can use our pace and create a few chances.

“It could be a similar game next week, both sides know more about each other. They will try to knock the ball about again but we like to pass it as well.”