Athletic Bilbao full-back Xabi Castillo says both the San Mames club and Real Sociedad are eagerly counting down to what will be a close Basque derby.
The two clubs meet this Saturday evening at Anoeta and Castillo has reflected on the emotions approaching the fixture.
“The derbies are very special. Clearly there are just three points available, but this not just one more game because both teams love to win this match,” he told reporters today.
“It’s a different week, with both teams looking forward to Saturday afternoon for when the game can begin. The entire atmosphere in the two cities of Bilbao and San Sebastian before a derby is great.”
The 26-year-old left-sided defender reflected on the approach his team must take in order to pick up a result.
“It is a game that can be won by small details, intensity may not get the most out of the team. We have to be strong in defence and have a lot of concentration for their short passing.
“With the ball they will be a danger, but it will be important for us to keep a clean sheet and we believe we will also have a few chances of our own.
“In the League we are close and on similar points tallies and I think it will be a closely fought derby. They start it at home, but we are finding form, wanting to do things and wanting to win the game.”
Real Sociedad will be deploying back-up ‘keeper Enaut Zubikarai between the sticks, after Claudio Bravo sustained a wrist injury this week.
“He is a good goalkeeper and when he has had to replace Bravo before he has done well. But, it is difficult to complete a full game having not played for so long, like he hasn’t, especially in a game as important as the derby.”