With their same coloured shirts and similar names, there will be no need for introductions when Athletic Club and Club Atlético de Madrid meet in the all-Spanish UEFA Europa League final in Bucharest on 9 May. These are teams who have been rivals since the Liga began and have already met in three domestic showpieces.
The clubs' first Liga encounter came in the inaugural Spanish championship campaign in 1929. By then they had already contested one Copa del Rey final, Athletic winning 4-1 in 1921. Athletic prevailed 2-1 when they next met in the showpiece in 1956, but it was Atlético's turn in their most recent showdown in 1985. Hugo Sánchez struck twice for Luis Aragonés's side before Julio Salinas pulled a goal back for Javier Clemente's Athletic in a final played at the Santiago Bernabéu.
Athletic v Spanish sides
Athletic were victorious in their only previous tie against a fellow Spanish club in Europe, beating FC Barcelona 4-3 on aggregate in the 1976/77 UEFA Cup quarter-finals.
Atlético v Spanish sides
Atlético have played 11 games against other Spanish sides in European competition, including home and away victories against Valencia CF in the semi-finals. Their overall record is W5 D2 L4. Those results include the 1958/59 European Champion Clubs' Cup semi-final against neighbours Real Madrid CF, which Atlético lost on a replay in Zaragoza after trading home wins.
Although Athletic lead 2-1 in Copa del Rey final meetings, there has been little between the sides in recent Liga encounters. Since the turn of the century Atlético have posted ten victories to Athletic's nine from 22 matches.
This season Athletic won their home Liga fixture 3-0 in October with the help of two Fernando Llorente goals, but a Falcao double consigned them to a 2-1 loss at the Vicente Calderón in March. Indeed, with four games to go the clubs are level on points in the Liga table, with Athletic sixth and Atlético seventh.
Atlético can point to more experience of the big stage in Europe, having contested five previous UEFA competition finals, winning two: the 1961/62 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, in which they defeated ACF Fiorentina, and the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League, when they beat Fulham FC. Athletic's only previous European final brought defeat on away goals by Juventus in the 1977 UEFA Cup.
Athletic may have less European final experience but they share with Barcelona the record for most Copa del Rey final appearances – 35 ahead of the clubs' showdown in this season's final on 25 May. The Basque club have won 23 domestic cups to Atlético's nine.
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