Remembering Athletic Club’s 12-1 Win Over Barcelona, The Biggest Victory In La Liga History
Friday marked a very special anniversary in the history of Athletic Club, indeed in the history of all of La Liga. Going into the 1930/1931 season Athletic were something special. Under the leadership of legendary manager Fred Pentland the Lions were the reigning league and cup champions and would repeat the double the following year which also saw the biggest victory in the history of La Liga that still stands to this day.
On 8 February, 1931 Athletic welcomed Barcelona to the San Mamés in what would be one of the most special matches ever played. Legendary forward Agustín Sauto Arana, better known as Bata, opened up the scoring after just 2 minutes and would then double the lead 6 minutes later. Barcelona’s Goiburu would pull one back in the 10th minute, but from there it was all Athletic.
Bata found the back of the net two more times in the first half with Guillermo Gorostiza and Ramón de la Fuente also contributing goals of their own. Going into the break Athletic held a 6-1 lead and were in dominant form. The second half would be much of the same from the Lions with Bata scoring three more times. Goals from Juan Garizurieta, José Iraragorri, and an own goal from Barcelona saw Athletic win 12-1 in front of their own fans at the Cathedral.
The result was historic at the time and the legend has grown over the 88 years since. To this day it is still the largest victory in the history of La Liga and a match that will never be forgotten. Athletic would go on to lift the league title that year despite a three way tie for first place. The Lions were level on points with Racing Santander and Real Sociedad, but were the clear champions because of the head-to-head goal difference between the three clubs.
Athletic also lifted the Cup at the end of the 1930/1931 season for the second straight year and would eventually win four in a row. Bata led the league in scoring with 27 goals followed by teammate Guillermo Gorostiza who netted 17 times. Those who were alive to witness the unforgettable win still refer to it as the single greatest performance in football and believe that it will never be accomplished again. With Barcelona visiting the San Mamés on Sunday, 88 years and 2 days later, there is hope and desire for another special night at the Cathedral.