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18.11.2009 13:24

The best Athletic Club of recent years

Jesús Carrillo

Athletic Club Bilbao, managed by Joaquin Caparrós, are enjoying their best start to the season in recent years. Next Saturday, they’ll face a tough test against league leaders FC Barcelona.

This year, the match between Athletic Club and Barça looks a more equal affair than in previous seasons. Bilbao have achieved their best league position of the last ten years – they’re 8th with 16 points. The last time they reached 8th place was in the 2003/04 season, but with two points fewer than now.

Risking relegation

This historic club from the Basque country has come dangerously close to relegation several times over the last few years. In 2005 and 2006 they were in the drop zone after the first ten matchdays though fortunately for them they managed to climb the table later in the season.

Stability with Caparrós

WEB_04.jpgJoaquín Caparrós has enjoyed a longer run at the job of managing Bilbao than many of his immediate predecessors. ‘Chechu’ Rojo, Jupp Heynckes, Ernesto Valverde, José Luis Mendilibar, Javier Clemente, Félix Sarriugarte and Mané occupied the manager’s bench for less than 3 years between them – precisely the time Caparrós has been in charge.

If he’s still there next season, Caparrós will equal Luis Fernández as the second-longest serving Bilbao manager. First place is held by Javier Clemente, who lasted 5 years in his first spell at the club.
The best Athletic Club of recent years
Twice in Europe
Over the last ten years, Bilbao has taken part in the UEFA Cup (now Europa league) on two occasions. In the 2003/04 season they reached the last 16 while so far this season they are second in Group L and going well to qualify for the next stage.

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