Athletic Bring the Good Times Back to Bilbao

With a new stadium and back into European domestic football's premier competition, there are plenty of reasons for smiles from Athletico Bilbao supporters...

Last Updated: 30/08/14 at 09:08 Post Comment

Latest Articles

Departing Fletcher deserves to be treasured

10 comments

With Darren Fletcher reported to have been granted a free transfer from Manchester United, Adam Bate looks back at his career at Old Trafford.

The Problem With FA Cup Shocks...

Post comment

...is that the draw for the next round is pretty shocking. Blackburn v Stoke, anybody? We also have mails on LVG and ManUnited, who drew plenty under Fergie...

All Articles

For Champions League commentators, the good news come in threes. Firstly, the city of Bilbao is back on the agenda after a 16-year absence after Athletic negotiated a testing qualifier against Napoli in the New San Mamés, a stadium that is technically still called the San Mamés.

It's a perfectly legitimate move considering the new ground lies on the site of the old one bar a 80 metre shift or so, due to some nifty planning and engineering. Athletic are squatting in an immensely fantastic stadium in a part of the world that is a treat to visit for media and fans alike. Initially, those are going to be of an Eastern European or Portuguese nature with BATE, Shakhtar and Porto ending up in the La Liga side's very comforting group drawn on Thursday.

An extra bonus is that it will allow the aforementioned commentators to wax lyrical about the romance of the institution and how Athletic are going completely against the grain in terms of how to nurture and develop a football club. The Basque side's reliance on either home-grown or locally affiliated players means that it is highly restricted in its dealings in the transfer market and thus very profitable, as no money can be frittered away. The coffers are boosted even further when considering the names who have departed over the past two summers - Javi Martínez and Ander Herrera have brought in over €50m.

If you take into account much coveted talent such as Ander Iturraspe, Oscar de Marcos, Ibai Gómez, Markel Susaeta and Iker Muniain, Athletic could be one of the richest clubs in Europe in terms of debt free credit in the bank.

The third big reason for a big bout of hand-clapping is that the names of the players are a heck of a lot easier to pronounce than they have been in the past. Ariz Aduriz, Mikel Rico and Aymeric Laporte are not overly hard to pronounce. It could be an awful lot worse than this all time XI which would have the commentators still working their way through the team-sheet during the halftime break: Etxeberría; Aurtenetxe, Zubiarurre, Larrazábal, Zuguzaga; Solabarrieta, Urrutia, Iturriaga, Goikoestxea; Bidaurrazága, Bengoetxea.

The victory over Napoli brought a huge sigh of relief to a squad - the pressure of finishing fourth and having to clinch the deal to get into the group stages is quite the burden on the players. Coach Ernesto Valverde revealed that there was quite the party going on the dressing room after Tuesday's clash.

Athletic's victory topped off a mixed week in the Basque Country. It was certainly a terrible one for Real Sociedad, a team that was ejected quite unequivocally out of the Europa League qualifiers by Russian outfit Krasnodar. That followed an opening weekend defeat to near neighbours, but very minnow indeed, Eibar.

The one player who should have been able to revel in that victory, Javi Laras, was unable to do so having suffered a migraine that forced him to leave the 1-0 victory early and go home after scoring the winning goal. Sadly, it is a condition that has always been a blight on the player's health. Eibar are off to the capital city to face Atlético Madrid this weekend, whilst Real Madrid are taking on Real Sociedad, a team that might well be in a bit of a funk after two unfortunate results.

Athletic though will be grinning from ear to ear in front of their own fans once again, and will feel considerably lighter than the pressure-ridden outfit that lost 1-0 to Málaga last weekend. Those supporters can expect good times to rival even those of Wednesday night, as Athletic ride back into the Big League once again.

Tim Stannard - follow him on Twitter

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

O

ne of the conclusions from this list is that Man City should never buy a striker in January - good luck Wilfried Bony....

Savinator
F365's Top Ten Worst January Panic Buys

I

was there, it was embarrassing - the team looked totally unbalanced from the off, the defence was woeful and when Mikel came off injured it got even worse with nobody in front of them. Up front on several occasions we had opportunities and nobody would shoot - it was a complete farse! On the back of Salah's performance I'm glad there is talk of getting shot...

Fly1ngh1gh
Cup defeat shames Mourinho

G

reat to see Tommy Rosicky getting some love. A wonderful player. Such a pity we lost so long to injury. I was so excited when we signed him, this resurgence only makes the absences seem more of a lost opportunity.

cheshire-gooner
16 Conclusions: FA Cup Fourth Round Weekend

Latest Photos

Footer 365

Transfer news: Samuel Eto'o leaves Everton for Sampdoria on free transfer

Samuel Eto'o has completed his free transfer from Everton to Sampdoria on a two-and-a-half-year deal.

Transfer news: Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino coy on transfers

Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino refuses to discuss transfer activity ahead of semi-final against Sheffield United.

Andrea Pirlo: Pogba not going back to Manchester United

Andrea Pirlo says that Manchester United must 'live with their mistake' of allowing Paul Pogba to leave because he is never coming back.

Mail Box

The Problem With FA Cup Shocks...

...is that the draw for the next round is pretty shocking. Blackburn v Stoke, anybody? We also have mails on LVG and ManUnited, who drew plenty under Fergie...

You're Man Utd, For Crying Out Loud!

Defending a 0-0 draw with Cambridge on the grounds that other teams lost to lower-league opposition is not befitting of Man United. We're inclined to agree with Mailboxers...

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company