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The enormous sigh of relief floating out of the rather lovely city of San Sebastian was audible all over Spain. The final hurdle had been overcome in what has been a fairly stressful few months for Real Sociedad, a team that is now back in the Champions League after a decade. What's more the Basque club had been rewarded with what is still seen in the country as the biggest present in European football - a trip to Old Trafford.
Real Sociedad's shakes of anxiety began towards the end of the last season. After holding a top four spot from the middle of March having played some extraordinarily fantastic football, a combination of pressure and fatigue overtook the team. La Real went into the final round of la Primera in fifth having dropped seven points from the side's previous four games.
Europa League qualification would have been just fine for a side that was only in its third year back in the top-flight after three troubled campaigns in La Segunda, however the Champions League had been the real dream. On the last day of the campaign, the San Sebastian side held its nerve with a 1-0 win against Deportivo. The same could not be said for Valencia, with a defeat at Sevilla to move Real Sociedad back into fourth.
However, celebrations did not last long with Real Sociedad having to do some urgent planning for the new campaign. Manager, Philippe Montanier, decided to move back to the French league with Rennes, whilst an inexperienced member of the former manager's coaching team, Jagoba Arrasate, was put in charge. Another big tremor rattled the northern club when key midfielder, Asier Illarramendi, moved to Real Madrid for €30million.
Rather than splurging this windfall in a bit of a panic, Real Sociedad opted to sign just the single player, with striker Haris Seferovic joining for €2million and already looking a bargain after a bright start to the campaign. The gap left by Illarramendi has been filled with the loan signing of Esteban Granero, with the midfielder returning to La Liga after a less than successful spell with QPR.
The beginning of the new season was a real sink or swim moment for Arrasate with the 35-year-old making a coaching debut in La Liga and the Champions League in the first week. Both tests were passed with ease with a 2-0 victory over Getafe in La Primera, followed by another 2-0 win in France in the European qualifier against Lyon. A third 2-0 victory - and the second against the French visitors - in a packed Anoeta put La Real into the Champions League proper to reward a fine six months for the side.
However, Real Sociedad will not be facing Manchester United as wide-eyed, gurgling tourists stumbling about clutching maps of the local transport network. The team has a fairly formidable forward line with the Swiss import from the summer leading the line along with Carlos Vela, who has been in extraordinary form since permanently joining from Arsenal.
Antoine Griezmann in a live-wire on the left and seems to be settling down into something resembling maturity, despite being mad a bag of bats deep down. Xabi Prieto, a survivor of the last Real Sociedad Champions League campaign still oozes class. All in all though, La Real are very much a club of homegrown talent with seven of the 11 that started Wednesday's qualifier against Lyon coming from the club's youth system.
Sociedad's return to the grown-up table of European football really is the feel-good story of La Liga. Whilst Málaga's ascension up the league table to the Champions League was driven by massive transfer splurges, the Basque side have used patience, planning and impeccable football as their engine. A trip to the Theatre of Dreams is an apt reward for a club that is riding an incredible wave of success.
Tim Stannard - follow him on Twitter