Chance to sample Basque derby
It’s a football derby like no other, fierce on the pitch, but pretty peaceful off the pitch as both fans from the clubs are always together – this is LaLiga’s Basque Derby between Real Sociedad and Atletico Bilbao.
Sociedad and Bilbao are two of the four top-tier sides in the north of Spain, also called the Basque Country.
Leading up to the derby, the atmosphere is on another level and with a kickoff of 2pm in Spain on a Sunday, the pubs and bars in San Sebastián are filled up early by the supporters as they get themselves ready for the match.
A couple of beers and local food is tradition for both sets of fans to start their day and from the young to the old, the Basque derby is not one to be missed.
“We live for football, we love the game and it’s the way of life for us. Spanish people love football, that’s something you can’t take away from us,´ said Sociedad fan Santi Lopez.
“When it’s the Basque everything just has to stop on the day, especially Sociedad and Atletico. Things are going to be very tough on the pitch, but we are one before football. The 90 minutes separates us for that time only, but after that we all laugh and speak about it together. That is why we even sit together in the stadium, it might be surprising for other people, but for us it’s normal. I grew up with my father supporting Atletico, but my mother and uncle are huge fans of Sociedad. But it’s normal, it’s like that in most families here.”
Looking at the build-up of the match and how it’s perceived, it’s something similar to what happens in the Soweto derby between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates. The day of the game is not entirely about what happens after the final whistle, but instead, a popular event where some people go to the stadium just to sample the atmosphere.
An Atletico fan who wanted to remain anonymous spoke fondly about the derby and the history of the two clubs.
There was nothing missing in terms of action which saw supporters on their feet now and then as Sociedad went on to win the tie 2-1 on their home ground,