Real Madrid vs Athletic | Supercopa de Espana First meeting in the competition
The battles between Real Madrid and Athletic Club are the stuff of Spanish football legend and date back to the origins of the game in the country, but this year is the first time that the two clubs have met in the Supercopa de Espana.
Real Madrid and Athletic, along with Barcelona, belong to an exclusive and elite group of teams never to have played outside the top division but despite the history books being filled with encounters between them, they have only ever faced off in the league, cup and friendlies.
The Supercopa, admittedly, has only been around since 1982 and, curiously, Athletic are the only team to have won it without playing the final, when they were declared automatic winners in 1984 having won both the league and the cup.
Real Madrid and Athletic renew their rivalry on Thursday night in Malaga in the latest edition of an encounter as old as Spanish football itself.
In the 1902 Concurso Madrid, a tournament organised to celebrate the coronation of Alfonso XII, both teams took part but managed to avoid each other.
Athletic, competing as Bizcaya together with players from Bilbao FC, were declared champions after defeating Espanol, New Foot-Ball Club de Madrid and Barcelona, who beat Madrid in the semi-final.
A year later, in the first-ever official Copa del Rey, Athletic, this time competing without alliances, were once again victorious and on this occasion they did face Real Madrid, beating them 3-2 in the final.
An early predecessor of the Supercopa was the Copa Eva Peron, which ran from 1946/47 to 1952/53, in which the league winners played the cup winners.
Athletic and Real Madrid won the trophy once each, but never played each other.
Then there’s the Copa Presidente de la Federacion, which, like the current Supercopa format, involved the top two teams in the league and the cup finalists.
It ran only once, with 11 games in 1941 and the final match in 1947, as a mini-league and was won by Atletico Aviacion, who finished ahead of Valencia, Athletic and Barcelona.
On Thursday night, Real Madrid and Athletic Club will finally meet in the Supercopa and in doing so write a new chapter in their long and storied histories.