Garitano exercising his relegation ghosts with Athletic Bilbao


When Athletic Bilbao promoted Gaizka Garitano to first team manager, from a role with the club’s reserve side, his brief was clear – avoid an embarrassing La Liga relegation.

Sacking managers has been a common theme at the Basque side, since Ernesto Valverde left the club for Barcelona in 2017,with Garitano the third coach to take the reins at San Mames in just 18 months.

He has replaced Eduardo Berizzo, and follows in the footsteps of Berizzo’s predecessor Cuco Ziganda, who was plucked from reserve team management at the club.

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Athletic Bilbao-Real Sociedad highlights Basque struggle

Basque Derby

Saturday’s Basque derby between Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad was billed as the standout match of La Liga’s weekend, with the two historic rivals once again going head-to-head in a battle based on regional pride. The two traditional heavyweights of the Basque Country went toe-to-toe last season in the battle for European spots – both of which were achieved – yet this season their struggles have mirrored each other.  Continue reading

Top ten footballers aged 35 or older in Europe

Quarter final Germany vs Italy

In today’s football world, clubs are keen to land young players who seem to possess a wide range of talents. Huge transfer fees are paid, based on potential. Just think about Renato Sanches, Anthony Martial, and Raheem Sterling.

However, talent doesn’t always guarantee success. Just ask the following ten players who are aged 35 years or older. They are still playing a big part in their respective European clubs’ performances due to their massive experience.

1. Gianluigi Buffon (38, Juventus)

Buffon is still the most expensive goalkeeper ever and rightfully so. He kept 21 clean sheets in Serie A, second behind only Atletico’s Jan Oblak, and made a bunch of key saves for Juve. He won yet another Scudetto, while also shining at Euro 2016 with Italy.

2. Andrea Barzagli (35, Juventus)

Buffon got help from Juve’s BBC defence: Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, and Andrea Barzagli. The latter one is the most classy defender of the three, being able to defend any forward due to his amazing positional play, strength and football IQ.

3. Aritz Aduriz (35, Athletic Bilbao)

Some footballers get better with age and Aduriz is a typical example of this. The striker scored a career high 20 La Liga goals last season for Bilbao, in addition to 10 goals in the Europa League, which earned himself a place in Spain’s squad for Euro 2016.

4. Tiago (35, Atletico Madrid)

It’s not as if Atletico Madrid suffered a lot this season when Tiago went down injured with a tibial fracture. But they did miss his experience and power in midfield during the Champions League final and the final stages of the Primera Division season.

5. Francesco Totti (39, AS Roma)

No active player has been attached to one club for such a long period than Totti, who’s been in Roma’s senior team for 22 years. He endured a difficult season in the Italian capital but still provided five goals and four assists in just 13 appearances.

6. Patrice Evra (35, Juventus)

Another Juve player. Evra joined the Old Lady in 2014 and has won two Serie A titles and two Italian cups since, while reaching the Champions League final last season and the Euro 2016 final this summer. He’s still a reliable left-back and an assurance for success.

7. Claudio Pizarro (37, Werder Bremen)

Pizarro’s spell at Bayern wasn’t a huge success, as the Peruvian was mainly used as a substitute by Der Rekordmeister. However, he rejoined Werder Bremen last summer and hit the net 14 times in 28 Bundesliga games at the age of 37.

8. John Terry (35, Chelsea)

Last season appeared to be Terry’s last for Chelsea, but that changed when Jose Mourinho was fired and the centre-back was able to give the Blues defence stability again after a very bad start to the Premier League season by the Stamford Bridge club.

9. Luisao (35, Benfica)

Benfica fans saw just 11 appearances by their captain Luisao last season. The Brazilian suffered an arm injury in November and missed the rest of the season. However, when healthy, the physical Luisao is still one of the better centre-backs in Europe.

10. Dirk Kuyt (35, Feyenoord)

Last but not least is former Liverpool forward Dirk Kuyt. The 35-year-old Dutchman left Turkey for former club Feyenoord and impressed with his goalscoring and leadership. Kuyt hit the net 19 times in the Eredivisie and four times in the Dutch cup.

Honorable mentions: Gareth Barry (35, Everton), Heurelho Gomes (35, Watford), Ricardo Carvalho (38, Monaco).

Aritz Aduriz’s long-awaited Spain recall proving age is just a number


Athletic Bilbao and Spain striker Aritz Aduriz has been one of the biggest success stories of the national team in some time. The 35-year-old recently made his second cap for his country, six years after his first, and prior to this season it seemed as if a chance of a return had passed him by. However, Vicente Del Bosque game the veteran striker a chance to prove his worth and he’s taken it with both hands.

Scoring in Thursday’s 1-1 draw with Italy, Del Bosque led the praise for the frontman, saying: “Aduriz performed well. He’s adapted perfectly to our game.” It’s high praise for a normally stoic manager, and Aduriz couldn’t hide his delight after impressing. “I’m very happy to participate with the national team, it is a shame we did not win. It is easy to get along with these players. They are very good and make your life easier,” he said.

Aduriz is not in the squad to make up the numbers this season, his form has demanded a call-up. For many years he’s been overlooked by the national team despite posting some impressive goal tallies in the Spanish La Liga, but this season he’s finally getting what he deserves. Since his move from Valencia in 2012, the veteran has hit double figures for league goals every season.

Aritz Aduriz’s tally of league goals since 2012
(2012/2013) Games: 36, Goals: 14, Assists: 6
(2013/2014) Games: 31, Goals: 15, Assists: 7
(2014/2015) Games: 31, Goals: 18, Assists: 4
(2015/2016) Games: 29, Goals: 17, Assists 5
With La Liga sides still having eight more games to go in the season, Aduriz could surpass his previous tally for goals for the fourth consecutive campaign.

He’s proven himself a ruthless finisher, and is doing everything in his power to ensure he’s on the plane with the Spain squad for this summer’s European Championships. Diego Costa, Alvaro Morata and Paco Alcacer are the other frontmen expected to make the squad, but Aduriz’s would understandably make more headlines given how many years he was frozen out for.

The striker has had a respectable goal record his entire career in truth, but he was competing against some of the game’s best in the likes of David Villa and Fernando Torres. While some talented frontmen are vying for selection now, Aduriz is under no illusions that the lesser pool of talent betters his chances of making the squad at the end of the season. At the age of 35, he never gave up believing, and he’s now being rewarded.