Athletic Bilbao boss Eduardo Berizzo has said the tension in the dressing room is rising ahead of Friday night’s game with Real Sociedad.
Friday night sees Athletic Bilbao welcome Real Sociedad to San Mames as the Basque rivals meet for the first time this season to begin the La Liga weekend.
Hosts Athletic sit in 15th place but with a game in hand following the postponement of their earlier clash with Rayo Vallecano with a win in that match possibly lifting them as high as eighth.
Los Leones earned an impressive point away at Barcelona last weekend but prior to that had struggled, losing 3-0 in their last home match against Villarreal.
Despite a strong start to the season, La Real sit just a point above their rivals after a draw at home to Rayo was followed by a defeat at home to Valencia last weekend.
Last season’s game at San Mames ended in a goalless draw with Sociedad winning 3-1 at the Anoeta, thanks to a double own goal from Mikel San Jose.
“The derbies that I have managed in (Boca and River Plate) have no comparison to this, because they mean the most for the fans,” Berizzo told reporters on Thursday.
“The derby on Friday has the maximum important with two teams who have a massive history and are eager to win. The players are all impregnated with this sensation because it means leaving their fans happy.
“It is a week in which the tension is high, it is already in the dressing room.”
Berizzo confirmed on Thursday that both Aritz Aduriz and Inigo Martinez will be available for the derby despite concerns on the contrary. Iago Herrerin is also available for selection after injury but is likely to only make the bench with Unai Simon expected to continue in goal.
As for Asier Garitano and Real Sociedad, they remain without the injured quartet of Jon Guridi, Diego Llorente, Adnan Januzaj and Martin Merquelanz.