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Xabi Prieto / FOTO: R.SOCIEDAD WEBSITE

He has been a member of Real Sociedad since he was five and has spent his entire life in San Sebastian. The leader and captain of Barcelona’s opponent on Saturday at 6.00 in Anoeta, Xabi Prieto, has described his home ground as “a place where we have got a lot of points and where we have some very passionate fans. In the last two years we have always made things very difficult for Barça, with one win and a draw”. The icon of the Basque outfit was speaking to the ‘ADN Barça’ show on Barça TV about football in general and particularly FC Barcelona.

A legendary team

“They are a machine and the figures speak for themselves” said Xabi Prieto. They are verging on perfection, I take my hat off to them”. He is a huge admirer of the likes of Iniesta, Xavi, Busquets and Piqué, but the one player he singles out above all the others is Leo Messi. “He’s the best player in the world. I hope he doesn’t play on Saturday because 91 goals is a number from another galaxy”.

Saturday night fever

“We are excited to be welcoming Barça, they’re the best team in the world and play the best football. We will stay faithful to our own style, but we’ll probably see less of the ball, because it’s impossible to get it off them”, he continued, adding that he doesn’t think Barça’s midweek draw with Malaga will make any difference to the league fixture. “They could easily have won 4-1. I am sure that draw won’t have any effect on them whatsoever”.

Hero in San Sebastian, admired in Barcelona

Being a one-club man, it is only natural for expressions like ‘local hero’ and ‘club legend’ to be associated to the name of Xabi Prieto. He has been in the first team for ten years, and is particularly famed for scoring a hat-trick at the Bernabéu (the first of his career and the fourth in Real Sociedad history). This year he has been wearing the captain’s armband for the first time, following the departure of Mikel Aranburu. But he also has strong feelings for Catalonia, where he has family, and admits to being “a little bit of a Barça fan,” not just because of their football but also because of their wonderful supporters.

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