El Centrocampista

Historic Basque derby welcomes S.D. Eibar to La Liga

Just shy of two months to the day when Jota Peleteiro, and some favourable results, fired S.D. Eibar into La Liga, the Basque outfit celebrated another memorable week in its 75-year history, when the fixtures of their inaugural season in the top tier of Spanish football were announced.

And as it turns out, the fixture computer certainly came up with the goods.

A tantalising Basque derby at home to Real Sociedad awaits the newcomers in their first ever La Liga game on August 24, before they travel to reigning champions Atletico.a week later.

However the Eibar fairytale has not been without its problems and at one stage it looked likely that the club could be demoted even before a ball was kicked.

Despite being labelled as a ‘model club’, club officials were faced by finding a way to increase its capital by a figure relative to the average of the capital of the other clubs in the league, estimated to be in the region of £1,4m. It was a figure that seemed astronomical when you consider that the town of Eibar has a population of 27,000 whilst the capacity of their home ground Ipurua is a mere 5,250.

However, thanks to a social media campaign titled #DefiendeAlEibar (Defend Eibar) and news spreading of a potential injustice inside Spanish football (the unjustness of the law was featured in publications including the New York Times), the amount was raised through shares purchased by fans not only in Spain, but throughout the world – astonishingly a quick look at the share register will even point to addresses in Canada and Australia. Local companies also chipped in looking to support a team deserving of First Division status.

The man considered to the mastermind behind of all this is S.D Eibar’s president Alex Aranzabal, and rather fittingly he was present at a ceremony to both receive the trophy for finishing top of Liga Adelante and to discover the club’s fate in terms of the fixture list for its first term in the top division of Spanish football.

After the battle to make sure that they actually play in the division, the next challenge is to make sure they stay there. The man tasked with the job is manager Gaizka Garitano, a former player who was part of a team who came agonisingly close to achieving a promotion to La Liga in 2005. That season also saw the professional debut of a certain David Silva, who was loaned to the Basques from Valencia.

Last season the team was lifted to La Liga with the help of several standouts players, one being Jota Peleteiro. The young Galician was loaned to S.D. Eibar from Celta Vigo and his 11 goals during the campaign helped him win over the hearts of the club’s dedicated fans. A knack of popping up and scoring goals in games that looked set to end in goalless draws, played a vital role in the promotion push.

At the other end of the pitch, goalkepper Irureta was another crucial member of the squad and won the Zamora trophy for having kept the most clean sheets in Segunda; he is expected to be a very busy man this season.

Not only is this their first season in La Liga, but this year the club, known as Los Armeros (the Gunners) will also celebrate its 75th Anniversary.

Football romantics will no doubt be hoping that the clubs remarkable tale, will end with a happy ending.

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