Villarreal CF back in Bilbao | Athletic Club
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Villarreal CF back in Bilbao

Some of the most iconic and important Athletic-Villarreal matches at San Mamés over the past two decades

Villarreal CF back in Bilbao
Villarreal CF back in Bilbao
Feb 18, 2021

This Sunday at 21:00 CET, Athletic Club host Villarreal CF at San Mamés for their LaLiga 2020-21 Matchday 24 fixture.

The two sides have clashed at The Cathedral in LaLiga Santander on 20 occasions since the Groguets first visited back in 1998-99. Since then the Lions have won eight matches, drawn six and lost six against Sunday’s visitors.

Athletic’s first official match against Villarreal in LaLiga dates back to May 16, 1999. However, two seasons beforehand the Rojiblancos had knocked the Castellon-based side out of the Copa (0-1 in El Madrigal and 2-2 at San Mamés).

In their first league match, Villarreal CF -led by José Antonio Irulegui-, faced Luis Fernández’s Athletic in a match which the Lions won 2-0. Julen Guerrero and Santi Ezquerro, who scored with a bicycle-kick from outside the box, were on the scoresheet that evening.

A minute’s silence for Zarra

Fifteen years have passed since Athletic Club legend Telmo Zarra passed away. The death of the top goalscorer in the Club’s history occurred three days before this fixture in the 2005-06 season. To honour the former striker, a moving minute’s silence was held in The Cathedral just before kick-off.

In the 2014-15 season, Athletic bid adieu to iconic right-back Andoni Iraola with a 4-0 win over Villarreal at The Cathedral. It was a fitting send-off for the legend, who is fourth in the Club’s all-time appearance makers list (510), as he managed to get on the scoresheet for his 38th and final goal as a Lion.

Final match with fans at San Mamés

The most recent Athletic vs Villarreal took place on March 1, 2020. Unbeknownst to all in attendance, it was to be the last match with fans in the stands, as the global COVID-19 pandemic has left stadiums completely empty ever since. On the day, Rául García saw Athletic to a 1-0 win which ended a ten-match winless streak. What’s more, The Cathedral also celebrated José Ángel Iribar’s 77th birthday, with an emotional clip being aired on the San Mamés’ video scoreboards.

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