Rivals by country: BRAZIL
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Rivals by country: BRAZIL

Athletic Club have faced 11 Brazilian clubs in their history, being Vasco de Gama the first of them, 63 years ago today

Rivals by country: BRAZIL
Rivals by country: BRAZIL
Jun 29, 2020

On 29 June, but in 1947, Athletic Club faced a Brazilian team for the first time, Vasco de Gama. The lions won 3-2 in the final of the II Teresa Herrera Trophy, with goals from Gainza, Iraragorri and Zarra. It was a prestigious win against the Campeonato Carioca champions. The match had raised such expectations that the newspaper La Gaceta del Norte had a headline saying “A hundred radio stations will keep the world updated about the evolution of the match” on the very day the final was played. The stands at Riazor were full up, something that had already happened the week before in the Copa final between Real Madrid and Español. According to the reports, the match was magnificent and the Red and Whites prevailed thanks to a powerful start to the game, with fast plays and long passes.

Athletic Club – Vasco de Gama. Teresa Herrera tournament final, 1947. Captains: Lelé and Bertol.

Vasco de Gama is the first of a number of Brazilian opponents, a list made up of 11 clubs against which we have played 19 matches, none of them official, although most of the duels were part of renowned summer tournaments.

The four biggest clubs from Río de Janeiro are among our historically Brazilian rivals: Flamengo (3 matches), Vasco de Gama (3), Fluminense (1) and Botafogo (3); three clubs are from Sao Paulo:  Palmeiras (1), Santos (1) and Portuguesa (1); two from Minas Gerais: Cruzeiro (1) and Atlético Mineiro (3); and two from Rio Grande do Sul: Grêmio Porto Alegre (1) and Grêmio Esportivo Nacional (1). Corinthians, Sao Paulo and Inter are the only historic teams we have not had the chance to face yet. In the aggregate, Athletic have recorded 8 victories, 7 draws and 5 defeats.

Summer tournaments

After the aforementioned Teresa Herrera Trophy held in 1947, Athletic Club have faced Brazilian rivals on other twelve occasions in different summer tournaments, including those celebrated at San Mamés.

• Athletic happened to meet the same rivals in the same tournament in 1957, but in their second encounter with Vasco de Gama in the XII Teresa Herrera Trophy, they were beaten 4-2. Playing in front of over 40,000 spectators, the goals from Bilbao and Etxaniz were not enough to come out winners.
• The 2-2 draw against Portuguesa de Desportos, with goals from Koldo Aguirre, was not enough to win the Barcelona Tournament in 1963, given that they fell 2-1 against hosts Español in the three-team tournament.
Flamengo prevented the lions from qualifying for the Gamper final (Barcelona) in 1968. Iribar played a great game, but the Brazilian side prevailed 1-0.
• The red-and-white side won 3-1 (two goals from Dani, one from Lasa) over Cruzeiro in the IV Villa de Madrid trophy in 1976. The hosts became the tournament leaders after winning 1-0 in the final.
• Just about 10 days later, in the Ramón de Carranza Trophy held in 1976, the lions defeated the favourites –Palmeiras 2-1, with goals from Amorrortu and Garay. Unfortunately, they were beaten by Atlético de Madrid 1-0 in the final once more.
• The lions fell to a 0-3 defeat to Botafogo and finished last in the International Athletic Trophy in 1979. The cup was awarded to Nottingham Forest, who beat Dinamo București 2-1.
• Three weeks later, in the final of the Ciudad de Vigo Trophy in 1979, Athletic got their revenge and made it into the final, knocking Botafogo out in the penalty shoot-out, after a 1-1 draw. The Red and Whites won the trophy after defeating the hosts in the shoot-outs too.
• In 1982, luck eluded them and the lions fell in the final of their International Tournament against Atlético Mineiro, after drawing 0-0 in regulation time. De Andrés and Sarabia missed their penalty kicks.
• Athletic met Vasco de Gama for the third time in the XXXIX edition of the Teresa Herrera in 1984. On 83 minutes, the lions were winning by two goals, scored by Endika and Sarabia, but the Brazilian side equalled the game due to the overconfidence of the red-and-white squad, not letting them make it into the final after the penalty shoot-out.
• Atlético Mineiro were Athletic’s opponents in the Amsterdam Tournament held at The Olympic Stadium in 1985. The Red and Whites fell to a 3-1 defeat, with goals from De Andrés, and they could not play the final against Ajax.
• Their revenge against Atlético Mineiro was taken during the consolation final of the Iberian Tournament in Logroño in 1992. 3-1 in favour of the side from Bilbao, with goals from Carlos García, Luke and Uribarrena.
• In the tournament held in commemoration of San Mamés’ 80th anniversary, Athletic prevailed over Flamengo in the penalty shoot-out in 1993. Guerrero and Eskurza scored the hosts’ goals (2-2) in the regular 90 minutes and Valverde, Larrazabal, Eskurza, Larrainzar and Luke scored the decisive penalties. They fell to a 0-1 defeat in the final against Valencia at La Catedral.

Tributes, Basque language and artificial light

Apart from the fixtures belonging to summer tournaments, Athletic Club has played six more friendlies against Brazilian teams. Among all of them, we should highlight the clash against Flamengo in April 1962, in which the artificial lights at San Mamés were inaugurated. The lions prevailed 5-1, with goals from Iturriaga, Mauri (2) and Koldo Aguirre (2).

In 1985, in a match held in support of SEASKA and the Basque language in the Northern Basque Country, Athletic prevailed 2-0 over Botafogo in Bayonne. Gallego and Urtubi were the goal scorers.

Two of the games that used to be celebrated in homage to our club members were held against Brazilian sides in 1989 and 1994. A match against Fluminense ended up in a 0-0 draw, and a game with Grêmio Esportivo was won 2-0. Another tribute, this time paid to left winger Estanis Argote, made Athletic face Santos in 1990. The Brazilian team prevailed 0-2. Grêmio Porto Alegre have been our latest Carioca opponents to date. In 1997, during pre-season, the lions drew 1-1 against them in Barakaldo.

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