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Barcelona – Athletic de Bilbao

On the 1st of April 2012, Barcelona vs Athletic Bilbao is being played at the Camp Nou. It´s one of the most emblematic matches of Spain´s football league which has been an uninterrupted fixture since the beginning of the league in 1929. Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao, together with Real Madrid, are the only teams in Spain´s first division who have never been relegated in their history.

barcelona <b>athletic</b> bilbao

This year, to this thrilling fixture, there´s the added spice that both teams will also be the finalists of the 109th edition of the Copa del Rey, the Spanish Cup, on the 25th of May at the Vicente Calderón stadium in Madrid.

Throughout history, there have been numerous and legendary matches between these two teams which have been a major talking point. It´s inevitable to talk about the Copa del Rey final in 1984 when there was a huge fight between the players of both teams, images that went around the world. Also, more recently, in the last Copa del Rey final in 2009, Barcelona beat ´Los Leones´ (Athletic´s nickname, The Lions´) 4-1.

Another object of rivalry between the two clubs is the honours list in terms of Cup champions. Barcelona is ahead with 25 titles, two more than Athletic. Regarding league trophies, Barcelona is clearly ahead 21 to 8, with the Basque club having not won the league since 1984.

Athletic is one of the most curious teams in the world, not just Spain, because they play only with Basque and Navarran players. This is a tradition which has been taking place throughout their history. More than once the club has discussed the possibility of signing players from outside that region to be able to compete better in modern football since the difference in status with them and the top teams is quite noticeable in the last 25 years, with Ahtletic not having competed for the title in that time. However, that possibility has always been dashed.

Athletic, today, has the record of having achieved the biggest victory in the history of the league, 12-1 against FC Barcelona precisely, on February 8th 1931. However, more recently, Barça beat them 7-0 in the 2000-2001 season, the biggest defeat Athletic has ever suffered.

The last time that Los Leones won at the Camp Nou was in 2001-2002, with a 2-1 victory, the goals coming from Urzaiz and Ezquerro for Athletic and the single reply by Barça´s Rivaldo.

A detail to take into account is that both Athletic and Barça have two of the best youth systems in Spain, Lezama and La Masia respectively. From these youth systems we´ve seen how some of the best Spanish footballers in history have come out, such as Guardiola, Iniesta and Xavi for Barça and Llorente, Iríbar and Zarra for Athletic.

Athletic, who is going through a great run of form, will make things very difficult to Barça, who this season is raising doubts over a potential end of an era for the Pep Team.  Will Guardiola carry on as the manager next season?

For more information on tickets for this match, enter the following webpage: http://www.fcbarcelona.es/

In order to relax after this thrilling match, don´t forget to rent apartments in Barcelona