Match in Focus: Basque Derby Preview

In the first Basque Derby of the season, the region’s two biggest clubs go head to head at San Mamés. It’s a historic fixture that embodies everything that a traditional football derby brings; passion, fight and intensity but, also a great deal of respect.

Friday 5th October, 20:00 GMT Kick Off

Form Guide:

Athletic Bilbao last 5 games – W D D L D

The home side have struggled of late in La Liga and are sitting deep in the bottom half of the table. Three draws in their last four may seem like an unhealthy habit but considering two of those points came against Real Madrid and Barcelona, things could be far worse. Athletic won’t want a repeat of their last home game; a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Villarreal.

Real Sociedad last 5 games – W L W D L

Both of La Real’s wins this season have come away from their redeveloped Anoeta home, which bodes well for a trip across the Basque Country to face their neighbours. In fact, two disappointing home results have hindered their apparent progress under Asier Garitano and the San Sebastian club have fallen to an underwhelming 13th position in recent weeks.

 

Head to Head:

With two wins each and two draws in their last six league meetings, it seems hard to separate the two sides. In fact, five out of their last ten La Liga fixtures have ended in draws.

Last season’s match-up at San Mamés ended goalless in a game that featured the likes of Aymeric Laporte in red and white and Iñigo Martínez in blue and white.

Athletic hold the bragging rights when it comes to all-time La Liga meetings with 58 wins to Real Sociedad’s 47 while La Real have won on just one of their last five visits to Bilbao.

 

Ones to Watch:

After the departure of Kepa Arrizabalaga to Chelsea in the summer, Athletic fans were understandably worried about a replacement. However, another academy product, Unai Simon, has looked right at home between the sticks for Athletic this season and has impressed in games against Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Real Sociedad have a homegrown star of their own in Mikel Oyarzabal. The attacking midfielder, who has been capped by Spain, is full of flair and has an eye for goal. Athletic almost poached him from Eibar when he was 11 years old but his parents blocked the move, with Oyarzabal instead moving to San Sebastian at the age of 14.

Having spent his entire career at Real Sociedad before a controversial move to Athletic this summer, Iñigo Martinez was on course to face his former club for the first time this weekend. However, a muscle injury has made him a serious doubt for the derby and the former La Real man isn’t expected to feature.

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