Barcelona, long the best football team in world, fell apart. They got so big they couldn’t afford their big money players. Messi, still the best player in the world, is paying in Paris with Neymar and Mbappe. Others took a cut in salary. A former player has returned to coach the team and he is playing youngsters, 17 and 18 years old, with the remaining veterans, the mentors, Pique and Busquets. They still play the beautiful game and they are even more fun to watch. Unfortunately they can’t seem to win but they are coming closer.
The Bilbao club is the opposite of a big money team. They only hire people born in the Basque region. That region, in northwestern Spain stretches in France. Basque before country! This last match was played in Bilbao and before the match began, while the stadium was bathed in deep red LED lights we were treated to tradition Basque music played on xalaparta, a hollow wood instrument.
Bilbao has a famous soccer academy and the graduates for the most part stay in the region. Most Spanish teams have their ultra fan sections. The fans in Bilbao are all ultra fans. They are loyal backers and proud of their team. They beat Barcelona in overtime and will advance to the final rounds of the Copa del Rey.