Real Sociedad icon Xabi Prieto believes his lifelong club are poised to give Inter a hard time when they visit Estadio de Anoeta in their UEFA Champions League group stage opener. The San Sebastian natives arrive into the clash following a close defeat to Real Madrid in La Liga – a performance Prieto thinks they can draw inspiration from.

In an exclusive with Tuttomercatoweb, the 40-year-old Basque icon gave his thoughts on the club’s return to the top-tier of continental football to take on Inter.

“The start is very difficult, against the runners-up of the last edition of the Champions League, against a team that is going through an excellent moment of form. However, we are playing at home, there’s a lot of excitement for this match and I’m sure that Real Sociedad will give Inter a hard time.”

Prieto is not surprised at Inter’s unbeaten start to the season.

“I saw the derby on Saturday, won by a landslide with 5 goals against Milan, and I also saw some clips of the matches against Fiorentina and Cagliari. I think Inter are going through an excellent moment, as demonstrated by the fact that they easily won all of them and four first matchdays of the championship. It’s not a team that needs to dominate to be dangerous: it feels very comfortable running in spaces, and we need to pay close attention to this aspect.”

Real Madrid came from two goals down to inflict La Real’s first loss of the season.

“We have collected 6 points so far, it’s true, but with only one defeat against Real Madrid, at the end of a match in which we played very well for 45 minutes, before the Merengues reacted. I think we played well and showed that we can compete on equal terms with any opponent.”

Real Sociedad return to the UCL after a decade, with their last appearance coming in 2013/14, when they were tossed out of the group stages following a poor campaign.

“The Champions League is the most important European competition, and returning to it after 10 years is wonderful. We all look forward to hearing the anthem again and seeing our team challenge the greatest. Furthermore, from a sporting and economic point of view, it represents an important step for the club.”

When quizzed who is the one player he would lure away from Inter to Sociedad, Prieto pointed to the Nerazzurri’s main marksman.

“If I could take away some players from Inter, I would take away several, but if I can take away just one, I would take away Lautaro. Furthermore, he didn’t score in the victory against Milan last Saturday, so I’m sure he will arrive at San Sebastián with great determination.”

The only previous meetings between the two clubs came in the 1979/80 UEFA Cup, with Inter emerging victorious against Sociedad over two legs in the first round of the tournament.

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