Euro 2000


Spain 1 - France 2

Spain: Cañizares; Salgado, Paco, Abelardo, Aranzábal; Mendieta (Urzaiz 57'), Guardiola, Iván Helguera (Gerard 78'), Munitis (Etxeberria 75'); Raúl, Alfonso. 4-4-2.
France: Barthez; Thuram, Desailly, Blanc, Lizarazu; Vieira, Djorkaef, Zidane, Deschamps; Dugarry, Henry (Anelka 82'). 4-4-2.

0-1. 32. Zidane. Free kick from edge of area after Aranzábal fouled Djorkaef.
1-1. 38. Mendieta (penalty). After Thuram brought down Munitis.
1-2. 44. Djorkaef. Shot high into net after pass from Vieira.

It's all over! The miracle couldn't happen twice, and we are out of Euro 2000. But what a way to go out! Last time we scored twice in injury time to come back from dead. This time we were almost there when the Italian referee Collina awarded us our second penalty of the match in the last minute after Barthez inexplicably pulled down Abelardo. But for once luck wasn't with us, and Raúl blasted his kick way over the bar. It was a cruel way to lose, and we all hope that Raúl doesn't take it too much to heart. Raúl we still love you (although maybe just a little bit less for a couple of weeks or so).

After the win against Yugoslavia in Bruges which gave us victory in the group, we were able to play this match in the same stadium. The Spanish name for the city is Brujas, which also by the way means witches, and we were all hoping for a night of witchcraft once again. Camacho surprised us all, including Munitis in the starting line up on the left of midfield, with Aranzábal coming back at left back in place of Sergi. Hierro was still unfit and so Paco kept his place in the centre of defence, despite shaving his head as part of a promise for winning against Yugoslavia. Having seen his ears, we now know why he wears his hair long - hope it grows back soon! With the balding Abelardo alongside him, I must say I was reminded of Pamela Anderson.... Anyway, France's manager Roger Lemerre decided not to include Real Madrid's Anelka in the starting line up, preferring the ex Barcelona striker Dugarry. Arsenal's Petit was injured, and so Djorkaef came in to midfield.

Spain have not beaten France for almost 20 years, but if this had been a singing contest we must have been in with a chance judging by the discordant voices coming from the Gallic lines as they destroyed their own national anthem. However this was a football match, and the world champions intentions were clear when Vieira headed over in the second minute. But after a shaky start we came back with the nippy Munitis causing problems for the defence on the left, and Raúl was unlucky not to beat Barthez after he caught him off his line in the 20th minute. Zinedine Zidane was however starting to show his best form, and just after the half hour mark he struck a majestic free kick which left Cañizares clutching at air. Still we didn't give up, and after Thuram clattered into Munitis in the penalty area, Mendieta levelled the scores from the penalty spot. For a minute it looked like we could do it, but Aranzábal failed to pick up Djorkaef on the right, and the little midfielder lashed the ball into the back of the net just on the stroke of half time.

That changed things, and Spain came out after the break a little groggy. Some ten minutes into the half Camacho decided to make changes, and he brought on another striker Urzaiz for Mendieta. In my view that took out our best player, although to be fair to Camacho he had failed to make much inroad at the start of the half. Collina started to produce yellow cards as the game degenerated, and Paco was lucky to stay on the park after a rugby tackle on Henry who was breaking free on the left. Etxeberria came on for Munitis, and then Gerard came on for his first appearance in the tournament in place of Helguera. Then Abelardo produced his little bit of theatre again (the second time in two matches) and for a moment we all thought we were on for the golden goal. I can imagine the scenes on the field. Hierro hadn't started and Mendieta was already off, and Guardiola was on a hiding to nothing if he had taken the spot kick, having already been criticised by the press for his earlier lack of commitment. No, the only person who could take it and survive a possible miss was national hero number one Raúl, and he accepted the responsibility as ever. You felt however that this time it not to be, and even the young striker lacked his usual confidence as stepped forward. The ball went over, and we had failed again at the quarter final stage, although this time at least against the world champions.

At least the win against Yugoslavia gave us something to cheer about, and hopefully Camacho will continue on in the job as we set out once again to qualify for the 2002 world cup. Meanwhile players, coaches (and most of the SOCCER-SPAIN staff) will now start a short holiday before the new season starts once again. In the meantime the transfer period continues, and international players will probably be deciding their future in the next few days. My colleagues will keep you informed. Buenas vacaciones to all, and hope to see you when the world cup campaign starts in September (if I'm not fired by then).

Love and kisses,