|First Division - Day 1|
Real Sociedad 4 - Athletic Bilbao 2
Westerveld; López Rekarte, Jauregui, Schürrer,
Aranzábal; Xabi Alonso (Tayfun 70'), Aranburu; Karpin, Nihat (Mikel
Alonso 92'), De Pedro; Kovacevic (Khokhlov 80'). 4-2-3-1.
An exciting local derby, with Real Sociedad for once getting off to a great start after two or three years struggling near the bottom of the table. Although there were very few changes from last season's squad, new manager Raynald Denoueix has given them a more disciplined look, and this could be the year that they get back into the big time. They did make one important new signing though, Valeri Karpin returning to the club after six years doing the rounds, and he celebrated his return scoring the opening goal in typical fashion. The lead only lasted one minute though before two of Bilbao's young lions combined to level the scores, Arriaga keeping a cool head on his debut and rounding Westerveld before setting up Gurpegui.
Two mistakes though either side of half time by Athletic keeper Lafuente let in Turkish World Cup player Nihat to put Real well ahead, the first a free kick which bounced in front of the number one and the second a shot through his legs. Gurpegui got his second of the night to close the gap with a quarter of an hour to go, but only two minutes later Kovacevic got on the end of the excellent Nihat's cross to head home the fourth. Athletic's problems were compounded by injuries to Karanka, Del Horno and Orbaiz (who has had to pull out of Spain's squad for their upcoming international), and with Murillo also out injured Heynckes could have some problems putting together a back four for their next match against Barcelona in a fortnight's time.