Football

Eibar's dream continues

Published 0900 GMT (1700 HKT) December 19, 2014
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Tiny Eibar is holding its own in Spain's top flight despite being the smallest team in the division by some distance. After successive promotions, and a share issue to raise the requisite capital, the club situated in the Basque mountains sits in the top half of the table as the season nears its half way point. Chris Murphy/CNN
The club is novel in that it is debt free and self-sustaining. Despite having a budget for the season that is dwarfed by most clubs, Eibar sits ninth in La Liga, nine points clear of the relegation zone. And this for a town with a population of only 27,000 people. CRISTINA QUICLER/AFP/Getty Images/file
The club is determined not to overextend itself financially and after a summer of modest spending, Eibar began life in the top flight with a morale boosting victory over Basque neighbors Real Sociedad on the opening day, Javier Lara scoring the winner. Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images/file
One of the biggest days of Eibar's season came with the visit of European champions Real Madrid. Los Blancos, complete with Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez, won 4-0 at Eibar's tiny Ipurua stadium in November. Madrid has a budget of €762m for the season, compared to Eibar's €18m. RAFA RIVAS/AFP/GettyImages/file
Eibar are coached by Gaizka Garitano (R) who spent four years at the club as a player in the 1990s. He has overseen successive promotions to take Eibar into Spain's top division for the first time in its 75-year history. Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images/file
Eibar have also made the daunting trip to Barcelona -- 22 times champions of Spain. Their clash in October saw Eibar's Ander Capa miss a golden opportunity to put his side ahead, before goals from Xavi, Neymar and Lionel Messi settled matters. The entire town of Eibar could fit into Barca's Camp Nou stadium three-and-a-half times. LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images/file
Eibar's share issue attracted support from all over the world, including Scotland, a country that already has links to the Basque club. A group of Eibar fans introduced a Scottish element to its support, calling themselves Escocia la Brava or 'Scotland the Brave', after a visit to the country to watch a rugby international. Chris Murphy/CNN
Eibar president Alex Aranzabal says the club's "soul" has been key in its recent transformation. "It's very important for us that the club and the fans are together because we have to create very special conditions, like a mystique. It is raining, everything is dark, surrounded by the Basque mountains and the people are feeling what the players are feeling. It can be quite frightening for the opposition." Félix Morquecho/El Diario Vasco