The Basque Derby represents the best rivalry in LaLiga, according to Athletic Club head coach Ernesto Valverde. This Saturday at 21:00 CEST, Los Leones make the trip across the Basque Country to Donostia and the Reale Arena for a fixture the gaffer described as "special and motivating".
Just two places separate the two sides in the LaLiga EA Sports standing, with la Real sixth on 12 points and Athletic fourth on 14.
"In my opinion, it's the best derby in LaLiga. You can see all the fans together, having fun and cheering on their teams. I'm sure there will be an extraordinary atmosphere like always," Valverde said in his pre-match press conference on Friday evening.
"It's true it's come round quite quickly and we took a beating [against Getafe] due to playing with ten men for so long. But we have to be fresh and play at our best level."
The boss believes Athletic can win the match by sticking to their guns and not veering away from their usual style of play.
He said: "Each team will do what they normally do: try to take the game to the opponent. Both of last season's matches were hard-fought, with each of us winning at home.
"Real Sociedad are playing Champions League football for a reason. They have the ability to win tough games. Right now we're evenly-matched. There's never a clear favourite because the rivalry, which is healthy, means the possible differences don't always show."
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