International Matches

Spain 1 - Mexico 0

Spain: Casillas (Ricardo 80'); Puyol (Curro Torres 71'), Hierro, Nadal (Téllez 46'), Juanfran (Aranzábal 80'); Mendieta (Víctor 57'), Guardiola (José Ignacio 57'), Valerón (Sergio 57'), Munitis; Diego Tristán (Morientes 46'), Raúl. 4-4-2.
Mexico: Oscar Pérez (Sánchez 85'); Vidrio, Suárez, Brown; Arellano (Saavedra 60'), J Rodríguez (A Rodríguez 67'), Torrado (Mercado 85'), García Aspe (R García 63'), Ramón Morales; Alves, Palencia (De Nigris 66'). 3-5-2.

1-0. 72. Raúl. Scored from a yard out after Hierro headed on corner.

Report by our international correspondents Borja Pantzov and Goran Arsic to follow.

So here we are in Huelva on the South coast of Spain, and our worst fears are confirmed: the brand new Nuevo Colombino stadium is nowhere near ready, despite promises from the local council that everything would be fine. The ground is not due to be opened until the new year when Recreativo take possession, and the local authorities have jumped the gun in their desire to inaugurate the arena with a high profile game. We suppose we should have known when we bought the tickets for the match. "Do you want the muddy brick strewn end or the one with the scaffolding falling down around your heads?" "Don't you have any seats?", we ask. "Well no, not just yet, but if want to bring one along I'm sure one of the nice workmen will bolt it down for you".

And as we approach the workers who are building a wooden sort of construction, we note that some of them are Irish women. This of course interests Goran and he asks the nearest one why they are here. "Well, we wanted to go to the f***ing match in Iran, but the f***ing Iranians won't let f***ing women in because they f**ing want to protect us from f***ing bad language, so we've f***ing come here instead". "Oh really" is all we can think of to say, and even Goran backs away this time. One of her foreign colleagues is picking up nails and throwing half of them away. "Why are you doing that?" we enquire cautiously. "Well the heads are on the wrong end, aren't they ", he replies. His work mate looks up, "you great big idiot", he says, "they're for the other side of the hut".

We make our excuses and move on quickly, entering the ground with caution trying not to trip over anything hanging loose. Camacho has once again brought in a couple of new faces, Ricardo and Curro Torres, and we are keen to see how they fit in. Guardiola is also back, and Mendieta is still in the side despite suffering a small nightmare in Italy. We also want to see how the Mexican side is doing after they qualified for the World Cup at the weekend, and they have three players in their squad who play in Spain, Espanyol's Palencia, Ejido's Torrado and Valladolid's Cuauhtèmoc Blanco. We have a small bet on how small the letters must be to fit Cuauhtèmoc's name on his shirt, but we are disappointed to see that he is apparently "absent-without-leave", probably having b*ggered off after taking one look at the pitch.

We wouldn't blame him though, seeing the state it is in. It was apparently only laid a couple of weeks back, and nobody was allowed to train on it for fear of doing it damage. So what is going to happen when 22 large men with studded boots start to run around on it? Obvious really. It breaks up almost immediately and spoils the game with large clods coming away from the surface making it dangerous to run flat out. Camacho, always one to turn disadvantages in his favour, decides to hide his smaller players such as Munitis and Puyol in the divots waiting to surprise the attacking forwards, and the Barça defender pops out of the ground at one point to stop a shot from Alves as it is going in the net.

Being a friendly match with little to play for the changes come thick and fast in the second half, with no less than 37 players taking part at some stage in the game (probably more than in an American football game). Eventually Spain score, and who else could it be but Real Madrid's Raúl, turning the ball in from close range for his 23rd goal for his country. That brings him level with his honorary club president Alfredo Di Stefano as Spain's third highest scorer of all time, and he only has two other players in front of him, his assistant marketing director (or whatever his job title is) Butragueño and his club captain Hierro. Talk about keeping it in the family!

And so the match ends, and we go on to our hotel just down the road where we will be staying for the next couple of days. "Do you want a room overlooking the building site, or would you prefer the cheap rate air-conditioned-actually-we-haven't-fitted-the windows-in-yet special offer?". Where have we heard that before?