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The city of Eibar is in the Basque Country, located roughly halfway between Bilbao and San Sebastián. Population figures are vague and change over the years, but with around 30,000 people, it has a very strong case for being the smallest town to ever have a club in La Liga.
The Sociedad Deportiva Eibar (‘Eibar Sports Society') was formed in 1940 out of two informal pre-Civil War clubs. They originally wore red and white stripes modelled on Athletic Club Bilbao but in 1943 obtained a set of Barça shirts and to this day still wear the famous blaugrana stripes.
After playing more seasons in the Spanish Second Division than any other club, they reached La Liga for the first time in 2014. They were relegated after their first season, but due to Elche being demoted on financial grounds, they were reinstated and have stayed in the top flight ever since.
Surrounded by mountains, the Estadio Municipal de Ipurúa is surely the most scenic venue in La Liga. It is also the smallest, despite the recent expansion to 8,050 seats.
The club are known as the armagiñak, or ‘gunsmiths’, due to weapons manufacture being one of the most important local industries, and it is fan-owned following a crowdfunding campaign when the club joined La Liga for the first time. The project captured the imagination of football romantics all over the globe – Eibar has shareholders in some 65 different countries!
So what’s with all the Scottish flags? Founded in 2001, Eibar’s biggest supporters group is called Eskozia la Brava ('Scotland the Brave') in recognition of the unique passion and loyalty of Scottish football fans. They’re particularly fond of Celtic, who were special guests at their 75th anniversary match in July 2015.
Head to head
After five seasons of meetings, Barça have yet to lose to lose to Eibar, and the 2-2 draw at Ipurua (after Barça had already won the league) was the first time we dropped points. Leo Messi scored both the goals in that game.
Eibar only managed one point from their first four Liga games this season, but have not lost any of the four games played since, including victories against Sevilla and Celta Vigo. That puts them fourteenth with nine points.
Most capped internationals: Fabián Orellana (Chile, 40), Takashi Inui (Japan, 34), Pape Diop (Senegal, 20), Marko Dmitrović (Serbia, 12),
Top scorer 2019/20: Fabián Orellana (3)
Injury news: Defenders José Ángel and Esteban Burgos are the main injury concerns, but neither are particularly regular starters anyway.
José Luis Mendilibar never played higher than the second division as a player, and after retirement coached a number of mainly Basque lower league clubs, including Eibar, who he very nearly guided to promotion in 2005. His growing reputation earned him jobs at Athletic Bilbao, Valladolid, Osasuna and Levante, before he finally returned to Eibar in 2015.
Senegal international Pape Diop: "We play every game the same, whoever we play. The boos only changes minor details … We’ll try to be the Eibar we always are. If we compete well, who knows what the outcome might be?”
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