Eibar have been a much storied club in recent years. Having achieved promotion to La Liga for the first time in their 74-year history in 2014, they found themselves on the brink of demotion to the third division before they kicked a ball in the top flight due to financial issues. Luckily, they managed to sort them in time to ensure that they wouldn’t be denied their chance to play in Spain's premier competition.
They then managed to produce a surprisingly strong campaign for half the season with an unlikely qualification for Europe looking possible. However, just nine points amassed from the last 20 rounds saw them finish in 18th place and one of the worst spring showings in La Liga history. It looked like a fairy tale turned nightmare at the time and that Eibar were would head straight back down after a year in the spotlight with tough times ahead for the club, especially from a financial perspective.
But Elche's administrative relegation saw Eibar reinstated to the top flight and allowed to compete in La Liga for another season in the most unlikely of scenarios. Eibar knew, though, that changes had to be made if they were going to ensure a lengthier stay there having produced such a torrid second half-season last year.
In came experienced Coach Jose Luis Mendilibar in place of Gaizka Garitano, as well as a massive squad turnover which saw as many as 15 players from last season's squad depart and just as many new ones come in. That includes Atletico Madrid loanee Borja Baston, who is amongst the top scorers in the League this season with 15 to his name, as well as club-record signing Takashi Inui, who came in from Eintracht Frankfurt.
Such a squad revolution is rarely spotted at this level, but it seems to be paying dividends for the Basque club. They're now showing more consistency than last year and are dealing with life in La Liga a lot better now they have the first season's experience under their belts. Safety looks all but assured well before March, which has to be a huge credit for Mendilibar and his staff in how they have managed to gel together so many new players and form a disciplined team that's capable of getting results against most in the division on their day.
Now, with relegation not being a worry, Eibar may well be setting new goals for the remainder of the campaign and looking to contend for European football with the club currently sitting in sixth place. They won't be as fancied as the likes of Athletic Bilbao, Celta Vigo, and perhaps Valencia if they can recover their old form, but it's a challenge this group seems ready to take on as they continue to prove their doubters wrong with every game in what is so far the best season in the club's history.