Real Madrid and Athletic Club de Bilbao will meet next Wednesday at the Santiago Bernabéu in one of the most attractive clashes in the 33rd. round of LaLiga.
This confrontment between two of the teams that have never been relegated to second division in Spanish football (the other one is FC Barcelona) presents us an interesting battle for different objectives.
On one hand, Real Madrid which is third in the table with 67 points and have won four of their last five LaLiga fixtures coming this match with the possibility of putting pressure on Atlético de Madrid (72 points) in the fight for the second place on the table as Simeone’s team will have a tough challenge at Anoeta against Real Sociedad on Thursday.
On the other hand, Ziganda’s men, who has achieved 39 points, will try to get regularity to face this last stint of the season with at last some chance to reach a European spot. Winning at the Bernabéu could be the impulse they need to fight for Europe after a heartbreaking loss against Deportivo La Coruña last Saturday as locals.
Madrid’s and Athletic’s current forms seem to be inverse as Zidane’s side has found the reliability they didn’t show in the first half of the season. Concha Espina team comes after winning last Sunday at Málaga’s La Rosaleda by 2-1 with the contribution of a magical Isco and have remained in the battle for second place against Atlético de Madrid by winning 25 of their last 30 points in dispute at LaLiga. At the international stage Real Madrid are well lined up in the UEFA Champions League Semifinals after knocking Juventus out in an unbelievable Quarter Finals by keeping their continental legend intact on the way to a potential third consecutive Champions League title.
Athletic Club on the other side are currently just fighting to qualify for the European competition, as they were eliminated by Olympique Marseille in UEFA Europa League Round of 16. However basque team haven’t found stability on the Valverde - Ziganda transition and now their chances to reach a continental spot is reduced and makes them an obligation to win all their last six fixtures.
In the historical face to face between both sides, Real Madrid leads the comparison as they have managed the victory 113 times against the 74 triumphs of the San Mamés' club in 228 encounters.
The most memorable meetings are the cup finals, disputed by these two Spanish football classic clubs, which have clashed in eight occasions at that decisive round. Athletic gained the victory in 1902-03, 1915-16, 1930-31, 1932-33, 1942-43 and 1957-58 editions, whilst Real Madrid did so in 1904-05 and 1905-06 seasons.
Focusing just in the league ambit Real Madrid have won seven out of the last ten encounters against the Athletic Club that was only able to gain the victory once during this period (2014-15 Round 26, 1-0 at San Mamés). The last time basque got the three points from the Bernabéu was back in 2004-05 season, when the goals of Asier del Horno and Andoni Iraola gave a big satisfaction to Ernesto Valverde’s side in LaLiga’s 24th. Round at the Casa Blanca (2-0).
However, Madrid’s supremacy over Athletic in the last encounters gets relative as they could not set any difference in this season’s 14th. Round at San Mamés (0-0), in a game that offered us one of the best performances of the Ziganda’s side.
Wednesday’s match at the Bernabéu is one of those special occasions marked in the season calendar to prove which shirt prevails over the other one, it is a honor confrontment between two of the most historic and prideful powerhouses of the Spanish football and of course a decisive fixture to reach the season's objectives when there are just 18 points to go.