This is a non-Celtic story but one that caught the imagination at the start of this seasons La Liga fixtures. Every now and again a football fantasy comes through for some club or some player which usually takes place in some cup competition around the world.
But this is not a one season wonder campaign by a minnow team grinding out cup wins from a one nil dead ball goal and 100 hail mary’s. This is Eibar, a minnow club who are sitting 10th in probably the best league in the world, La Liga. To put minnow into perspective tonight they travel to the Camp Nou to take on the might of Barcelona in a stadium with nearly 20 times the capacity of Eibar’s Ipurua ground which holds a mere 5,000 spectators.
As Barcelona splashed £75m on Luis Suarez this summer, Eibar – also broke their transfer record, shelling out 75,000 euros on winger Dani Nieto. Reigning from the Basque country last seasons champions of the Segunda division nearly missed out on promotion to La Liga with relegation instead of promotion – thanks to a well-intentioned but inflexible administrative measure aimed at preventing clubs sinking into financial difficulties, which requires all Segunda Division teams to possess a certain amount of capital. They had a deadline until August to raise 1.75m to face promotion or relegation.
The town itself has a population of just 30,000, you can see why they catch the imagination but putting all the financial stuff aside, I have now watched them play 3 times and have been very impressed with how they apply themselves on the park, so far they have not gone hiding and parked the bus, they don’t seem to have any fear in them and they’ll need every bit of that courage tonight when they step out into one of football’s finest arenas to put themselves up against the worlds best.
Some more perspective of a true David V Goliath
|2013-14 average attendance||71,977||2,901|
|Official fan clubs (Penyas)||1,267||3|
|Seasons in top flight||84||1|
|Current full internationals||24||2|
|Record transfer||Luis Suarez, 94m euros||Dani Nieto, 75,000 euros|
|Annual budget 2014-15||539m euros (£428m)||18m euros (£14.3m)|
|Debt||287m euros (£228m)||Nil|