While Malaga have made a superb start to the season, taking 10 points from four games and winning 3-0 against Zenit St Petersburg in their Champions League debut in midweek, Athletic have yet to show their best form.
They began the season with heavy defeats to Real Betis and Atletico Madrid, and while results have improved, they could still be better.
Athletic were 2-0 winners against Real Valladolid in their last home match three weekends ago, but in another clash at their San Mames stadium could only draw 1-1 with Hapoel Kiryat Shmona in the Europa League on Thursday.
Iraola said: "We need to look a good team against a major rival. Malaga are a good team that is playing at its best, and this could be the opportunity for us to do so. It will be important to start well."
Spain striker Fernando Llorente has returned to the Athletic squad after an anticipated summer transfer failed to materialise.
He was chided by some supporters when he came off the bench on Thursday, having been apparently keen to leave the club, but could make his first start at home this season.
Iraola said: "Llorente is a very important player for us."
If there is a concern for Athletic, it is that they have had little time to recover from their match in Europe, unlike Malaga.
"They may have the advantage of having two more days of rest," the right-back said.
Malaga will be without defender Sergio Sanchez who serves a one-match ban for his dismissal in last week's 3-1 win against Levante.
American centre-back Oguchi Onyewu comes into the squad and could make his debut for Manuel Pellegrini's team.
Pellegrini is not expecting an easy trip, saying: "We are going with the mentality to gain points at a difficult place.
"My team is very focused."