BARCELONA – Barcelona and Athletic de Bilbao form the group of those chosen, together with Real Madrid, having played each and every one of the Leagues in the First Division since its creation in 1929. It is as unthinkable to suspect a relegation of the Catalans as difficult to imagine in the Lions, although their sporting potential is currently very far from when, during the last century, they were among an elite of which they are no longer part.
Barça touched the decline in 1942, saved on the last day, and Athletic in 2007, also saved on a last dramatic date in which they avoided their fall by beating Levante in their old cathedral of San Mamés, a stage in the one that the culers have enjoyed and suffered matches of all kinds in what is one of the historical rivalries of Spanish football. Much more bitter than it might seem at first glance and removed, not always with justice, for which Barça maintains with Real Madrid.
The 1920 Cup final, which Barcelona beat 2-0, was the first official confrontation between the two teams, which have reached 234 official matches to date, with 118 Barça victories for 78 of the lions, which at their San Mamés stadium , since 1929 they have received the Catalans 113 times, of which they won 54 and lost 35, the last in January 2021 with a double from Leo Messi and another goal from Pedri … the only player in the current squad that has celebrated a goal in the rojiblanco stadium.
It will be Barça’s first visit to La Catedral without the presence of Messi in the squad, an obvious relief for the lions who received seven goals in 13 visits by the Argentine, who only lost in two of them, an unforgettable 4-0 in the first leg of the 2015 Super Cup.
But before Leo there were other Barça characters for whom visiting San Mamés was something special. From Llorens to Zubizarreta, these would be the six main names … Among which is not Maradona, whose injury, savage, suffered on September 24, 1983 by a Goikoetxea entry occurred at the Camp Nou, not at the Basque stadium.
Goalkeeper who between 1921 and 1938 completed his entire career at Barça, playing 142 games and almost always in the shadow of Platko or Nogués, had the misfortune of being a starter in the biggest win ever conceded by the Barça club. It was in the old San Mamés, on February 8, 1931 with a historic 12-1 that still remains in the legend.
Received with criticism from the first day for his condition as a foreigner, on May 23, 1954 a very hard tackle by Arieta during a Cup match that ended in a draw (1-1) caused a tear of the internal lateral ligament and the meniscus of the right knee that kept him away from the pitch for half a year.
The first major transfer between the two clubs, in 1960 Barcelona paid almost 100,000 dollars of the time (an outrage) for the Basque defender … which Athletic used to pay for the construction of the new San Mamés grandstand, named after his Name. His first visit to his old field, in 1962 (3-2), was greeted with great, ironic applause from the local fans.
In full effervescence of Barça that was flying towards the league title in 1974, the visit to San Mamés (0-0) on March 24 was left in history by the slap that Ángel Maria Villar, at that time midfielder of Athletic and years later president of the federation, to Cruyff. Without waiting for the expulsion he left the field and later accused the Dutchman of having spent the first half hour of games provoking him.
His first year at Barça was tremendous … Until that December 13, 1981, during his visit to Athletic directed by Javier Clemente, he suffered a rupture of the inner, outer and crossed ligaments in his right leg, the victim of a criminal entry of Goikoetxea near the local area … which did not even deserve the warning. Schuster would not play again until nine months later and history passed its subsequent sentence: “Going to San Mamés is like traveling to Korea.”
National football hero, cheered on practically all Spanish fields, San Mamés became the cross of the manchego since on September 25, 2010 the referee Mateu Lahoz expelled the local central Amorebieta for a confusing play between the two and in which the local fans accused Iniesta of “doing theater.” Barça won (1-3) but since that afternoon each visit from La Mancha to San Mamés was received with indisputable whistles.