Preseason training has finally begun at Lezama and the Lions are one step closer to the start of the new season. In total, Athletic will compete in five friendly matches before they play the first leg of their Europa League qualifier on 6 July. This will be a much more entertaining preseason than in recent years as the Lions will take on other European giant such as FC Basel, Club Brugge, Fenerbahce, and Liverpool. However, there is another very special game that will take place this summer.
On 12 August, Athletic Club will face off with Alaves in the Basque Cup. The Euskal Herriko Txapelketa, or Basque Country Championship, is played between the two Basque clubs that earned the most points in Basque derbies from the previous season. The match will take place at Estadio de Lasesarre in Barakaldo.
Athletic only lost one derby all last season, which came at the hands of Alaves in the last derby of the season. Both matches between the two proved very entertaining and quite difficult. Alaves had a fantastic first season back in the Primera and made it all the way to the final of the Copa del Rey. Players at the club mentioned that they have have grown up dreaming of playing against Athletic and they certainly made the most of those meetings. The first meeting was a 0-0 draw at the San Mames, while Alaves won the second match at home 1-0.
The Lions will play their Europa League qualifier on 27 July and the return leg will take place on 3 August. If Athletic advances to the next stage of the tournament, they will compete in the play-off on 17 and 24 August. That means that the match against Alaves will serve as a final friendly for Cuco Ziganda to prepare his team for the campaign ahead. Athletic has qualified for European competition for four consecutive years and the goal is to keep that steak alive this season.