The lowdown on Athletic Club

The lowdown on Athletic Club

All the essentials on the team that FC Barcelona will be hosting this Sunday at 9pm CET

La Liga resumes this weekend and FC Barcelona will be looking to regain lost ground after drawing with Granada as they take on Athletic Club at 9pm CEST on Sunday. Here’s the lowdown on the team they call The Lions.

Where are they from?

The city of Bilbao is the tenth largest in Spain with a population of almost 350,000, although the ‘Greater Bilbao’ metropolitan area is home to getting on for a million people. It is the main city of the Basque Country, which has its own language and culture. Bilbao is a highly industrialised city and its most famous landmark is the Guggenheim Museum.

Club history

Due to being a port connected to Britain, Bilbao was one of the first cities in Spain to develop a football culture, and the Athletic Club was founded one year before FC Barcelona in 1898.

In the early years of the 20th century, the rivalry between Athletic and Barça was probably the most intense in the country. But as the years went by, the traditional friendship between Basques and Catalans was reflected more and more on the football field as they were united against a ‘common enemy’ in the rising Real Madrid.

Athletic remain, along with Barça and Real Madrid, one of just three clubs never to have been relegated out of the first division. And they are second in the all-time list for Spanish Cup victories (23) and fourth for La Liga titles (8), although they have not won either since their double winning campaign in 1983/84.

Arguably this is because the club continues to observe the tradition (it has never been an official policy) of only fielding players raised in the Basque football system. It is testimony to the quality of football in the region that Athletic have remained so competitive in the face of the ‘globalisation’ of football.


In the last five years, Athletic have knocked Barça out of the Copa del Rey twice and also the Spanish Super Cup once. But despite those slips in knockout competitions, the Catalans have remained solid in the league, losing just one of their last 19 meetings with the Basques.

The last two games in which Barça have had home advantage have both been 4-0 wins for the blaugrana. Last season, the goals were scored by Dembélé, Sergi Roberto, Lewandowski and Ferran Torres. Added to last year's 1-0 at San Mamés, that means Xavi has won all three games as Barça manager against the Basques, with his team scoring nine and not conceding once.

In fact, having won 55 of the last possible 57 points against Athletic when playing at home, this is a fixture that has gone astoundingly well for Barça over the years. Poor Athletic are also the only team against which Barça has amassed more than 350 league goals.

Last ten meetings
12/03/23 (LIGA) Athletic 0-1 Barça
23/10/22 (LIGA) Barça 4-0 Athletic
27/02/22 (LIGA) Barça 4-0 Athletic
20/01/22 (COPA DEL REY) Athletic 3-2 Barça
21/08/21 (LIGA): Athletic 1-1 Barça
17/04/21 (COPA DEL REY): Athletic 0-4 Barça
31/01/21 (LIGA): Barça 2-1 Athletic
17/01/21 (SPANISH SUPER CUP): Barça 2-3 Athletic
06/01/21 (LIGA): Athletic 2-3 Barça
23/06/20 (LIGA): Barça 1-0 Athletic


Form guide

After losing at home to Real Madrid on the opening day, Athletic have gone on to have a fine start to the season, only losing one other game, but it was the game they least wanted to lose, a 3-0 loss at local rivals Real Sociedad.

Otherwise, six wins and two draws have them in fifth place in the table, four fewer than Barça, raising hopes of getting back into Europe next season after two years of missing out.

The squad

Most capped internationals
Unai Simón (Spain, 37), Iñaki Williams (Ghana, 11), Nico Williams (Spain, 10), Oihan Sancet (Spain, 2), Iker Muniain (Spain, 2), Raúl García (Spain, 2), Ander Herrera (Spain, 2)

Barça connections
Central midfielder Iñigo Ruiz de Galarreta spent one season at Barça B before signing for Las Palmas. With a spell at Mallorca in between, he joined Athletic last summer

The boss

Ernesto Valverde is a familiar face at Barça. He played for Barça from 1988–1991 and then returned as manager from 2017–2020, guiding the club to two Liga titles and one Copa del Rey. This is his third stint as boss of Athletic, for whom he made 170 appearances in his playing days.

Valverde has also managed Espanyol, Valencia and Villarreal in Spain, and also Olympiacos, with whom he won three Greek league championships.

valverde _ dins noti


Força Barça
Força Barça

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