Barça will be playing at the new San Mamés for the first time on Sunday, the new home of Athletic Bilbao, next to the old ‘Cathedral’. And the side currently managed by Ernesto Valverde are enjoying some tremendous form there, for it is one of just three stadiums, the others being the Camp Nou and Vicente Calderón, that have yet to witness home defeat in the present league championship.
In six games, the ‘Lions’ have recorded four wins and two draws. Note that Athletic played their first home match of the season at Anoeta, because work had not yet been completed on San Mamés, although they also won that match, 2-0 against Osasuna.
It was not until their fourth match that they were able to play at the new venue, which ended in a 3-2 win against Celta. Some were worried that the magic of the famous Basque club would be lost in the modern stadium, but if their performances this season are anything to go by, then there was no reason for concern. In five of the six games played to date, Athletic have been losing at some point, but have always managed to bounce back to salvage a point or a win. In fact, the only teams not to have come away from San Mamés empty handed have been Valencia (1-1) and Elche (2-2).
It all amounts to Bilbao’s best start to a league campaign of the last decade. They are currently fifth and just one point short of a Champions League spot.