Former Barça captain Xavi Hernandez in the last league opener in Bilbao / FCB archive

Barça will kick off the new league campaign in Bilbao for the sixth time in their history this Sunday. The previous meetings between the two sides on Basque soil in the first week of the season took place in 1949, 1960, 1962, 1970 and 2003 with the Catalans picking up three wins, one draw and one loss.

The first such encounter at the old San Mamés included former greats such as Estanislao Basora and César in the Barça lineup but despite scoring first they fell to a 3-1 defeat.

Eleven years later, Barça clinched a comfortable 2-0 win against Athletic on the first day of the season, with Hungarian forward Zoltan Czibor grabbing both goals.

Just two years on, in 1962, the pair clashed once more and Barça again came away with the win, as goals from Sándor Kocsis, Antoni Camps and Josep Maria Fusté sealed a 3-2 victory.

Recent meetings

In 1970, Barcelona could only scrape a 1-1 draw at San Mamés thanks to a goal from Lluís Pujol. The most recent duel between the two sides in the opening week came twelve years ago with Frank Rijkaard taking charge of his first league match as Barça manager. His debut would be a successful one as the Catalans earned a 1-0 win through a header from fellow countryman Phillip Cocu.

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