The arrival in Bilbao of more than 2,000 Spartak Moscow fans has caused the Basque city to issue a series of warnings and deploy a massive security operation with the reputation of the Russian supporters preceding them.
Spartak are 3-1 down from the opening leg of the Europa League last 16 tie against Athletic but it is events off the pitch that are occupying the minds of Bilbao’s citizens after Spartak fans left their mark in Seville and Maribor during the Champions League group phase.
The local authorities in Bilbao have advised bars and restaurants to bring in outside tables and chairs to prevent them potentially being used as weapons while schools have cancelled all off-premises activities.
Spartak fans to be escorted to stadium
The Spartak fans have designated the Plaza Moyúa as a meeting point, where they will be greeted by a large portion of the 700 police and private security agents that are to be deployed and who will escort the visiting fans to the stadium.
For their part, Spartak have also issued an appeal for their fans not to rise to any “possible provocation” from Athletic supporters. “As such, we ask that you are extremely courteous and polite in Bilbao and other Spanish cities en route. Do not succumb to provocation and do not enter into conflict with local residents, ultras or agents of public security.”