It’s a derby with a distinct flavour. A local clash with a special magic. The Basque derby is renowned for its healthy rivalry both on the pitch and among the supporters. There are no barriers between the fans as they enjoy the game, intermingling in the stands in a fine show of sportsmanship. It’s all part of this annual celebration of Basque football. “Everyone loves the derby. There’s such a friendly atmosphere, it’s a fabulous advertisement for football. But, of course, when the game gets going friendship disappears, the only thing that matters is winning at home” Neither team is quite at their best coming into the derby. However, since both clubs’ shock elimination from the cup, Athletic have taken stock and had much the better of things. They now find themselves only two points behind Real in the table. They’ve come away with three good results: a draw with Real Madrid and wins against Zorya in the Europa League and at Levante last weekend. “We’ve done well the last few weeks, we’ve turned a corner. We hit an all-time low when we were e were knocked out of the cup. We all agreed things had to change and they have. Since then our results have been encouraging but not only that we’ve improved our game. I hope we keep it up for the upcoming matches. Real Sociedad, on the other hand, are going through a difficult period. Having suffered four defeats in a row, three of them in the Anoeta. Despite the blips, the Basque derby is a perfect opportunity for the team from San Sebastian to turn round their recent run of bad results. “Right now, we’ve got to stick together. We’ve got to be strong and show character, personality and the right attitude. The way out in times like this is to stay strong and face the challenge with determination.” It’s a classic in LaLiga and this Saturday the two teams meet up for the 141st time. The record so far is 46 victories for Real and 58 for Athletic. Los Leones won both encounters last year. One of them a thrilling 3-2 triumph at San Mames. 100 kilometres separate Bilbao from San Sebastian. The Guggenheim from La Concha. San Mames from Anoeta. The Real Sociedad fans will travel those 100 kilometres eager to participate in a game with a difference. Hospitality, friendship, pride and honour will all be on display. We’ll be watching the very best of Basque football in the match of the weekend in LaLiga Santander.