La Liga 2011-12 preview: Athletic Bilbao, Real Sociedad, Racing Santander, Sporting Gijon

Previewing the forthcoming 2011-12 Primera Division campaign, we take a look at the sides hailing from Northern Spain’s Basque Country, Cantabria and Asturias: Athletic Bilbao, Real Sociedad, Racing Santander and Sporting Gijon.

Athletic Bilbao, Basque Country
Bilbao have consolidated themselves as one of the League’s most efficient outfits. Last season’s top six-finish has earned them a place in the forthcoming UEFA Europa League and they have strengthened in the summer with the arrival of Ander Herrera.

The club have also kept hold of star man Fernando Llorente and will fancy their chances at another crack at European qualification. If Llorente and Herrera find themselves singing from the same hymn sheet, this could be a memorable season for Los Leones, particularly with new Coach Marcelo Bielsa adding a further interesting new dimension.

Ander Herrera, Racing Zaragoza, €7.5m
Mikel Orbegozo, Sanse, free

Ion Velez, Girona, free
Mikel Balenziaga, Real Valladolid, free

Further reading
– Caparros’ Athletic Bilbao reign over following elections
– Bielsa to Bilbao – Is there method to Athletic’s madness?
– Bilbao’s Fernando Amorebieta tells of his hopes for new season under Marcelo Bielsa
– Oscar De Marcos and Javi Martinez keen to work with Marcelo Bielsa
– Ustaritz and Ocio surprisingly axed from Athletic Bilbao’s squad