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19.02.2011 10:48

Bilbao looking to Europe

Sandra Sarmiento

Joaquín Caparrós’ team currently lie 5th in La Liga, the first time that they have been so high up the table since the 2003/04 season, and come to the Nou Camp with just one defeat in their last six games.

Bilbao looking to Europe

Llorente’s goals key
Fernando Llorente is the team’s main threat up front. The Spanish international has bagged 13 goals so far this season – 8 of them headers – and is bound to be keen to show what he can do at the Nou Camp after missing his team’s Cup game here in December.
ATH._BILBAO-FCB_x19x.JPGBefore last week’s 1-0 defeat at Mallorca, Bilbao had enjoyed a three game winning run which had taken them up to fifth and confirmed them as one of La Liga’s in-form teams. The Basque team’s strength has always been at home and this season they have dropped just 9 points at San Mames. They are also the league’s leading scorers from set plays with 10 from their impressive total of 37 goals, the fifth highest in La Liga and just one fewer than Valencia in fourth.

Success in 2004

It’s been seven seasons since Bilbao last held such a good position in La Liga, when the team included players such as Yeste, Urzaiz, Julen Guerrero, Ezquerro, Del Horno and Etxeberria and was coached by Ernesto Valverde.

Caparrós takes the team up the table

FCB_-_ATHLETIC_x10x.jpgCaparrós came to Bilbao in 2007 from Deportivo and his commitment to the club’s own youngsters has begun to return dividends: in his first season, the team were 15th at this stage with 26 points, a year later they were ninth on 30 points and last year they were seventh on 36. Caparrós’ willingness to throw in the youngsters fits well with the club’s own unique commitment to only having Basque players in the team, with neither non-Basque Spanish nor other foreign players ever donning the red and white striped shirt.

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