Spain 4 - Bosnia 1
Cañizares; Manuel Pablo, Nadal, Hierro, Juanfran; Mendieta (Munitis
56'), Iván Helguera (Valerón 46'), Guardiola, Luis Enrique (Javi
Moreno 74'); Raúl, Diego Tristán. 4-4-2.
Spain: played 5
games, 13 points
Report by our international correspondents Borja Pantzov and Goran Arsic.
Well world cup football is back, and we settle down to watch Spain carry on with their campaign to qualify for the finals in South Korea and Japan next year. Goran is excited as he knows many people from Bosnia, and has asked if he can have a few relatives and friends round to my flat to watch the match. Well, a couple or so will add to the atmosphere, so what the heck, just get in a few extra beers and bags of crisps. As kick-off time approaches the door bell rings and it is Goran's cousin with three friends, so we let them in. Then three more arrive, and as Goran says maybe two or three more could turn up later, so best to leave the door ajar so we don't miss the match. Camacho only makes one surprise change in the line up, Diego Tristán coming in for his first cap alongside Raúl in place of Javi Moreno, maybe a bit risky for such an important match, but he is playing well in the league. Incidentally, Tristán is the 42nd player to make his debut under Camacho in a little under three years, and even the caretaker of our flat said he got a call up once. The Bosnia team contains a couple of players who play in Spain, Atlético Madrid's Hibic and Rayo's striker Bolic, with ex-Real Madrid midfielder Baljic also in the side.
This should be an easy victory for Spain, and Oviedo's Nuevo Tartiere stadium is full to bursting, with a capacity 27,000 crowd watching their country play for the first time in Asturias. The crowd are a bit offside though booing Luis Enrique, who of course started his career in Oviedo's local arch-rivals Sporting Gijon, and you think they would forget that just for once. Shock horror at first though as Bosnia go close to scoring two or three times, and only Cañizares saves the day stopping shots from Bolic and Akrapovic and tipping Hujdorovic's header onto the bar. Finally Spain get a grip though, and Hierro puts us in front after Piplica misses his punch at Guardiola's corner, the Real Madrid defender finding the ball at his feet in front of goal. It is his 27th goal for Spain in 79 games, making him the all time top scorer for the country ahead of Butragueño, incredible for a defender. Now we have them, and Luis Enrique is unlucky not to score with a header against the bar. But even worse luck minutes later, when Beslija's shot hits Juanfran and balloons up over Cañizares, who was off his line, for the equalising goal. Our Bosnian guests jump up and down on our sofa, knocking over the coffee table and spilling the drinks. Will clean it up at half time, it's only a couple of minutes away. And it seems like hours, as Cañizares once again keeps out shots from Mujcin and Music with some great goalkeeping.
So I go into our kitchen at the break and what is all this? There are people all over the place, lying on the floor in the hallway, raiding my fridge and generally occupying all the empty spaces of my flat. I call in Goran and he looks a little sheepish, well maybe he mentioned something to a couple of people in the Hispano-Balkans club last night after a beer or two too many. They are all genuine football supporters though he assures me and definitely not asylum seekers, and after talking to them confirms they will leave after the match. I wrench a dishcloth out of the hands of a lady who is washing her baby in my sink, and return to clean up the mess in my sitting room. At half time Camacho brings on Valerón, his first appearance since Euro 2000, and soon afterwards he replaces Mendieta, who looks a bit injured, with Munitis. Nothing much happens though until Javi Moreno comes on for Luis Enrique with a quarter of an hour to go, and then it's fireworks. With almost his first touch Moreno puts us back in front, heading in a cross from Munitis for his first goal for Spain. I can't show too much emotion though, as by now I am surrounded by Bosnians, some of whom do not look happy that their team is losing.
There is a sound of breaking glass from somewhere in the flat, but I'd rather not know and sit through to the end of the game. It is nervy stuff until the last two or three minutes, when Spain get two more to give us a flattering 4-1 victory. The first is from Raúl after Hierro headed in another corner from Guardiola, and he now has 20 goals for Spain from his 45 games, and then a debut goal from Diego Tristán, although it seemed to go in off his shoulder rather than his head. If we get a good result from next Wednesday's game in Israel we can start saving up for next summer's trip to Asia, but right now my problems are a bit closer to home. I walk into the hallway just in time to see my bed leaving through the front door, and someone has lit a campfire in my entrance hall. I start to look for the telephone to call the police as Goran makes his excuses and beats a hasty retreat. "See you next Wednesday for the match" he calls out. "All right then, but this time we watch it at your place", I reply. I may not have anywhere to live by then in any case.