Xabi Prieto says that Real Sociedad travel to the Santiago Bernabeu ‘confident, but with respect’ for weekend opponents Real Madrid.
La Real go into Sunday’s test having spent Christmas in seventh place in the table, thanks to a seven-game unbeaten run in the Division.
For protagonist Prieto, the Basques are more than capable of maintaining that form, albeit if Madrid away represents a challenge.
“I don’t think the break will have affected us. I think we managed a great 2012 for La Real and with the second half of the season still two games away we are still in a very good situation,” began the attacking midfielder to reporters this week.
“That allows us to go to the Bernabeu without so much concern and whilst that may not come in handy, it means we are relaxed.
“Are we confident? That’s saying something to play against Madrid. They are a big team. We come with confidence, yes, but also respect. To take something positive back to San Sebastian would be the dream start for 2013, as one of the important things that we want to achieve.
“We arrive at a delicate moment for Madrid and of course we will try to keep things even with note of the pressure that the Bernabeu can then produce.
“We know that they are not having fun, they are far from Barcelona and they go into this after a painful defeat in Malaga, so we will see how they will react.
“Hopefully they have not recharged their batteries over Christmas.”
Madrid go into the game 16 points behind League leaders Barcelona.
“Of course no-one expected that they would have had this bad streak. But beware, it makes them more dangerous, because they are most in need of points and they still have one of the best squads in the world.
“Therefore, even if they are not well, we know it will not be plain sailing. It will be a complicated game and if we are not perfect, 100 per cent, then we will come back home with another defeat.
“Of course, such games [when Real have won at Madrid] are not forgotten. And if you score two goals [as Prieto did in the team’s last win at the Bernabeu]. That season, 2003-04, we won 4-1 and we have drawn twice more since then and this season we have already been able to win at grounds that historically have been difficult for us.
“We are seven games without defeat and we have an argument to think that we can stand up at the Bernabeu.”