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La Liga: Five greatest Basque derbies

One of European football's most vibrant, friendly, and passionate derbies takes place on Sunday as Athletic Bilbao host Real Sociedad.

La Real make the 100km or so journey west along the AP-8 sat four points ahead of their great rivals and with both pushing for a continental finish, those watching as part of our European Soccer Live Streaming Highlights can expect another classic.

Games between these two rarely disappoint and here is a selection of their greatest ever showdowns.

Real Sociedad 1-0 Athletic Bilbao - April 2021

Not the most exciting contest, but vital for what it meant. This clash in Seville marked only the second time the pair had met in the final of the Copa del Rey, with that game in 1910 ending 1-0 in Bilbao's favour.

Again, there was the solitary strike at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, a 63rd minute penalty from Mikel Oyarzabal, sparking wild celebrations, including Sociedad boss Imanol Alguacil conducting an impromptu celebratory singalong in his post-match press conference.

The clash at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan was delayed by a year, meaning Los Leones were without their talismanic frontman, Aritz Aduriz, who had called it a day the previous summer.

It was also the last time a winner could be found between these sides, with their two subsequent meetings finishing 1-1, a scoreline that is 9/2 to be repeated on Sunday.

Real Sociedad 3-3 Athletic Bilbao - January 2006

It is games like the one in January 2006 that explain why everyone gets so excited ahead of the Basque Derby. On a characteristically wet and windy night at the Anoeta, La Real, 12/5 to win on Sunday, raced into a 2-0 lead thanks to a double from Nihat Kahveci.

Aduriz answered with a brace of his own, the second coming on 67 minutes, only for Morten Skoubo to put Sociedad back in charge 60 seconds later with a brilliant chest and volley.

However, Bilbao would battle back to level through Andoni Iraola's stoppage time equaliser, albeit via a huge deflection from future Manchester City defender Javier Garrido.

Of the pair's 45 draws over the years, this edition was arguably the most fascinating.

Real Sociedad 2-1 Athletic Bilbao - April 1982

The first of a title-deciding double-header, Sociedad went into the game knowing a victory would see them secure only their second La Liga title, having claimed their maiden crown in 1980/81.

La Real started the day a point clear of Barcelona and in the days of two points for a victory, knew a draw may see them overtaken.

Goals from Roberto Lopez Ufarte and Jesus Zamora put them 2-0 up but the nerves grew both on and off the field at the Atoxtxa Stadium and were jangled further by Manu Sarabia's late strike.

However, Alberto Ormaetxea's men held on for what remains just their club's second La Liga crown.

Athletic Bilbao 2-1 Real Sociedad - April 1984

After two years of Sociedad success, Athletic, 7/5 for victory on Sunday, needed to live up to their Les Leones' moniker and rose up to win their first la Liga crown in 27 years as they topped the standings in 1982/83.

They had the chance to emulate their neighbours 12 months later, when Sociedad came to the San Mames on the final day with Bilbao knowing only a win would do.

Lopez Ufarte was again involved, equalising Jesus Liceranzu's opener but the defender would have the final say.

With Real Madrid beating Espanyol, Javier Clemente's side needed a victory and Liceranzu popped up with a decisive goal to send La Catedral into rapture as Athletic sealed the title courtesy of their better-head-to-head record against Real.

Real Sociedad 5-0 Athletic Bilbao - December 1976

Last but by no means least, a game that is remembered for its symbolism as much as its soccer.

Both Jesus Satrustegui and Gaztelu scored twice in a resounding victory for Los Txuri-Urdin but it would matter little in the outcome of the season, with Bilbao finishing third in the table, four points and five places above their Basque neighbours.

However, it was the pre-game events that captured the imagination as La Real captain Inaxio Kortabarria strode out alongside his Athletic counterpart Jose Angel Iribar holding the flag of the Basque Country, the Ikurrina.

The banner had been outlawed by the government in 1939 but Sociedad squad player Josean de la Hoz Uranga, who didn't even make the matchday party, managed to procure one and the gesture proved to be historic.

De la Hoz Uranga never hid his Basque loyalties and the gesture preceded the decision to allow the Ikurrina to be displayed publically the following year.

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