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With Liverpool coming to Dublin to play La Liga outfit Athletic Bilbao on Saturday evening in the Aviva Stadium, in their last pre-season friendly before the start of the Premier League season, we ask…
Who are Athletic Bilbao?
Athletic Club, aka Athletic Bilbao, are based in Bilbao, which is in Basque Country.
Their nickname is Los Leones (The Lions). Their stadium, San Mamés, has a capacity of 53,289 people.
Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bilbao are the three clubs that have never been relegated since the creation of the Spanish League. Athletic have won La Liga eight times. That is the fourth most in the history of the league.
The club are second only to Barcelona in winning Copa Del Rey, having won it 24 times. The club is also known for it's policy of bringing young Basque-born players through the ranks.
The perception is that this policy is a unique case in football; it can be seen in both a positive and negative fashion. Although the club has been praised for promoting home grown players and club loyalty in the past too.
Athletic's main rivals are Real Sociedad, against whom it plays the Basque derby.
They have entered the Champions League five times, firstly in 1956-57 (European Cup), finishing at the quarter final stage, which was their best efforts so far in the competition. The 2014/15 season was the last time they appeared in Europe’s elite compition, failing to qualify from their group.
European appearances for the club has been mainly in the Uefa Cup/Europa League, with 18 appearances. They reached the final twice, in 1976/77 and 2011//12, losing to Juventus (2-2 on away goals) and Atletico Madrid (0-3) respectively.
Their record victory in Europe is a 7–1 win away to Belgian club Standard Liège in 2004.
2016-17 Domestic Campaign
Bilbao finished in seventh place last season in La Liga, qualifying for the qualifying rounds of the Europa League. They had a record of 19 wins, six draws and 13 defeats from 38 games under current Barcelona manager Ernesto Valvarde.
In the Copa Del Rey, they reached the Last 16, where they were knocked out 4-3 on aggregate by eventual winners Barcelona.
In the Europa League last year, they reached the last 32. Apoel Nicosia knocked them out 4-3 on aggregate. They had earlier finished runners up in a group consisting of Genk, Rapid Wien and Sassuolo.
They just played in the Europa League last night, in a Third Qualifying Round second leg against Dinamo Bucere?ti winning 3-0 and qualifying to the Playoffs with a 4-1 aggregate scoreline.
They start their La Liga season at home to Getafe on August 20th.
Notable players in the current squad include forward Iker Muniain, young French centre half Aymeric Laporte and 36 year-old prolific talisman Aritz Aduriz. (He netted 24 goals in all competitions last year)
Former players still playing include Manchester United’s Ander Herrera (2011-2014), who played in the Aviva on Wednesday against Sampdoria (Embed match report), Swansea's Fernando Llorente (2005-2013) and Bayern Munich's Javi Martinez (2006-2012).