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

Bar Fight In Bilbao Ends 2014 In La Liga

Post comment

With Real Madrid playing at the Club World Cup, all eyes in La Liga turn to Atletico Madrid's trip to Athletic Bilbao this weekend. It could be brutal...

History Repeats Itself for Barren Barcelona

2 comments

Getafe have been a regular thorn in the side of Barcelona, and they repeated their trick to leave Luis Enrique's side four points behind Real Madrid. Things look pretty worrying...

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

I

really enjoyed this. Thanks F365 for another year of work avoidance - happy Christmas.

megabrow (cufc)
Our Person Of The Year: Alan Pardew

I

m no Sam Fan and this article sums him up beautifully. I always like to imagine that when he watches anything on TV and hears clapping, he stands up and aknowledges the applause, thinking its for him!

cozens
Football Managers On TV: Sam Allardyce

N

ah, Fergie is just having another pop at Rooney. He just wants to put him down whenever he gets a chance. Rooney is by far the best English player. Carrick is not far behind, mind. However, by elevating Carrick like that, Sir is having a dig at Wayne. Fergie is well-known for mind games like that. Good to see he's still feisty.

timbo
Van Gaal will thrive - Ferguson

Latest Photos

Footer 365

Chelsea striker Fernando Torres to make permanent move to AC Milan ahead of Atletico Madrid return

Fernando Torres will join Milan permanently on January 5 ahead of his expected return to Atletico Madrid.

Neil Warnock sacked by Crystal Palace after run of one win in 12 games

Neil Warnock has been sacked as manager of Crystal Palace, with Keith Millen placed in charge for Sunday's trip to QPR.

Rooney Enjoying 'Scholes' Role

Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney is revelling in his position as an attacking central midfielder, after he scored twice in the 3-1 victory over Newcastle at Old Trafford on Boxing Day.

Mail Box

Van Gaal's Half-Term Report Card...

One Man United fan isn't happy with the rate the team is progressing under Louis van Gaal, while the mailbox also wishes Liverpool fans a Merry Mid-Table Christmas...

Hang On, Rafa's Success Is No Fluke...

The afternoon mailbox kicks the morning mailbox's arse after claims that Rafa Benitez has fluked his success. Plus, big talk about Liverpool's progress and lots more...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property