Athletic Bilbao’s Oscar de Marcos has said the team will look to take the game to Real Madrid and get out of their bad run with a win.
Ernesto Valverde’s side started the season with a Champions League play-off win over Napoli but since then have accrued four points from a possible 18 and struggled in Europe.
De Marcos, having tried to establish what is going wrong at San Mames when interviewed by AS, turned to Sunday’s trip to the capital and the prospect of being one-on-one with Cristiano Ronaldo.
“Last year the team did so well that Ronaldo had few options against me,” he recalled.
“We pushed hard and didn’t let them play. We left in good standing.
“Ronaldo is the best in the world, he scores a lot of goals and he’s ambitious. If I’m against him again it will be difficult, but I’m ready.
“Every game this year except against BATE Borisov, when I was the playmaker, I’ve played and trained as a right-back. I’ve improved and I feel more confident.”
De Marcos revealed that Valverde wants the team to return to the principles that dispatched Napoli, vowing to take the game to Los Blancos.
“He wants us to do what we know and put it into practice, as we did until recently, like against Napoli,” de Marcos confirmed.
“If we lose, that’s all we have left. Going to Santiago Bernabeu is difficult, but let’s go for it.
“We’re going to do what put us in the Champions League. That’s high pressure and pressure after turning over the ball.”
It was put to de Marcos that Athletic have nine straight defeats at the Bernabeu, while he has played in six of them, but he’s not concerned by the form book.
“In three or four of those games I’ve left feeling good,” he countered.
“We know how they play and sometimes they don’t have the ball. They have an explosive attack.
“It’s very difficult to win but there’s always the feeling you can get something.”
De Marcos also touched on the departure of Angel Di Maria, suggesting he is pleased not to be facing the Argentine.
“The players who’ve joined and those who’ve left, they’re four high level players,” he conceded.
“Di Maria was my weakness. It wasn’t just his technical ability but his work for the team. I was very uncomfortable because he attacked so much and defended even more.
“And people are unfair on Iker Casillas. For many years he’s shown what a good goalkeeper he is and has brought many trophies to Madrid and the national team.
“But I’m not getting into that. That’s not for me.”