Thibaut Courtois says Atletico Madrid are not feeling the pressure that comes with challenging Barcelona at the top of the Primera Division table.
The capital outfit have begun the Liga campaign unbeaten, winning six of their games to occupy second place in the standings, leading to calls that the side could be on course to challenge for the title - their last coming in 1996.
But while the Belgium goalkeeper believes his team are more respected and feared than ever, the burden of fighting in the upper echelons of the top flight is not proving to be a heavy weight on him or his colleagues.
"Atleti have always been a good team and well respected, but now we probably command more respect and other sides are more afraid of us because we have won many games [recently]," he told reporters.
"Rivals are forced to change their game against us. We have no pressure to be [in second place]. We have stayed loyal to the same principle - to take each game as it comes.
"We have not acknowledged the fact that we are [at the top] with Barcelona. We believe in [our abilities ahead of] every game. We want to win and there is no more pressure than before.
Courtois then looked ahead to Sunday's Liga clash with Real Sociedad, who are currently placed 13th, and spoke of the importance of picking up the three points at Anoeta.
"We have to look at ourselves," he added. "The most important thing for us is the match tomorrow and we have to stay focused on it.
"We have seen a bit of how [Real] play. It's going to be a tough game because whenever you are the visitors, the encounter is always tricky.
"It's important to win to stay up high [in the table]. We know it will be a tough game but we have the quality to win. We expect to win."
Since his loan arrival from Chelsea in 2011, Courtois has become Atleti's undisputed first choice between the posts, taking the mantle from predecessor David de Gea.
However, his form has seen Sergio Asenjo fall out of favour in the club, despite much fanfare generated by his move from Valladolid, but the 20-year-old is happy to let his rival feature in the Europa League.
"It's normal. Sergio is also a very good goalkeeper and it suits me to get some rest. We won the Europa League last year and this time around we want the same outcome," he explained.
"It does not affect me because I play in the league. It's good to change. This way, he also gets minutes and, if something happens to me, he is ready to play."
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