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La Liga: Athletic Bilbao v Real Sociedad: All You Need To Know

Next Sunday sees the latest instalment of the Basque derby between the two largest clubs in the region in Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad.

Bilbao are 7/5 to win, with Sociedad 9/4 and a draw 19/10, with the action taking place at the San Mames,

What is the significance of the derby?

The two sides first played each other back in 1909 and the derby has drawn much interest ever since.

The Basque region is in northern Spain and there have been conflicts in past years over its independence from Madrid and from France, with which it shares a border.

Watch Graham Hunter's view on Sunday's Basque Derby

That is reflected particularly in Bilbao, who have a policy of only playing players who were born or grew up in the region, meaning they never make any external transfers.

Sociedad operate in a more conventional manner, but the derby is still fiercely fought well into its second century of existence.

Who has the better record?

Ahead of Sunday's clash, there have been 170 official meetings across league and cup between the two teams, with the first taking place in the 1928-29 season.

Bilbao edge out Sociedad in the head-to-head record having won 68 of their matches, with 57 going to the latter.45 of their matches have ended all square.

What has their recent head-to-head record been like?

Despite having an inferior record overall, Sociedad's recent form against Bilbao has been good, and they are unbeaten in their last five meetings, dating back to August 2019 - when goals from Inaki Williams and Raul Garcia netted at the San Mames in a 2-0 win.

Bilbao, known in Spain as Los Leones (The Lions) will be craving victory against Sociedad, though in fairness, most of the recent meetings have ended in stalemate - the reverse fixture ended in a 1-1 draw as Iker Muniain's 90th minute strike cancelled out Alexander Isak's penalty.

Sociedad's last visit across the Basque Country ended in victory back in December 2020, thanks to Portu's fifth-minute strike.

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La Liga: Talking Points

How have both teams performed this season?

At the time of writing, only one place and one point separates the two teams with the pair looking to try and qualify for European football next season.

Imanol Alguacil's Sociedad, nicknamed Los Txuri-Urdin (The White and Blues) did have a wonderful start to the season and were top at the start of November.

However, they were undone by a run of four straight losses through the winter and had now won only one of their previous nine league matches before Sunday's clash with Granada.

Bilbao's season has been steadier and they boast the second-best defensive record in the division, bettered only by Sevilla. They have generally hovered from eighth-11th this season and had won four of their last six league games ahead of a MOnday evening trip to Mallorca.

Who are the players to watch?

For Marcelino's Bilbao, Spain international Inaki Williams has been in great form this season, while Iker Muniain continues to be a creative presence in the forward line.

Inigo Martinez has been rock-solid at the back and a big factor in their ability to not concede goals.

For the visitors, Alexander Isak has been a coveted striker, with the Swede being linked with a move to Arsenal during the January transfer window.

And, Mikel Oyarzabal looks like he could be a Spain international playmaker for years to come with the 24-year-old scoring 12 times this season.

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