Athletic Bilbao are potentially six games away from their first visit to the Champions League since 1998/1999, but more importantly their Basque only policy has shown to be a modern viable solution in terms of a football club.
They have made their new San Mames a fortress after winning 11 of their sixteen games their only losing two to Atletico Madrid and Espanyol and drawing three. This form alone has helped maintain their European push all season. While Fernando Llorente has left, Iker Muniain, Ander Herrara and Aritz Aduriz have been key influences in maintaining this push, but the team as a whole deserves praise for what they have achieved not only for the team but the ethos of a Basque team policy.
This model is in essence similar to the Celtic team which won the European Cup in 1967, as the entire Celtic team were all born within ten miles of Celtic Park. While Bilbao have the whole Basque region, this still deserves praise, but the validity of such a policy has been questioned.
For over 100 years Athletic Bilbao have stuck to a policy of utilising home-grown players to achieve their goals - an admirable practice especially when the emphasis of teams is bringing foreign players to make themselves better rather than relying on home-grown talent.
The Basque model has illustrated that home-grown systems can work in modern football. The next six games will be an interesting observation on whether Athletic Bilbao can get themselves into the Champions League, having shown in recent seasons they can be a respectable force in European competition.
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