Pre-season 'Heroes and Villains'
Only one official competition has started to date, but we already have an outstanding leader in the goalscorers' chart. Dely Valdés has netted five times in the Intertoto cup, and has a chance to increase his tally in the two-legged final against Villarreal.
Some doubts as to whom will be playing in goal for Real Madrid and Barcelona. César and Casillas will renew their battle for the number one shirt in Madrid, and Van Gaal has to decide between Enke and Bonano at Barcelona. In the last friendly game though he preferred B team keeper Víctor Valdés, a Spanish under-21 international.
Last year's top villain Quique Alvarez has started well, getting himself sent off in one of Villarreal's Intertoto Cup matches. That doesn't count though towards our competition, which only includes Spanish league matches.
Referees are still warming up their whistles for the league kick off, but already we have an early contender for this season's award. Fernández Marín stole all the headlines in the final of Real Madrid's centenary tournament after awarding two dubious penalties, the first for an accidental hand ball by Michel and the second a fairly clear dive by Morientes.
The high-spot however came when he moved forward to book Bayern Munich's Pizarro. The Peruvian striker was standing close up to him, and when Fernández whipped out the yellow card it hit him right on the nose. The Munich players had to hold their team mate back, and several of them asked incredulously if he was really a first division referee.
Our trusty man-in-black is a mere novice though compared to Chilean referee Francisco Camaño, who was forced to resign after kneeing a player in the testicles last week during a league match. Could be a candidate for the next World Cup? (10.08.02)