| Manuel Labor reports.....
|First Division - Match postponed from week 19|
Real Madrid 2 - Betis 1
Casillas; Michel Salgado, Helguera, Julio César, Roberto Carlos;
McManaman, Redondo, Guti, Savio; Zárate, Morientes. 4-4-2.
Team changes: Real Madrid: Zárate for Raúl / Betis: Denilson for Oli.
Great controversy surrounded this match, with Camacho ignoring requests by Real Madrid not to select their players for the friendly international between Spain and Poland which was played on the same day. In the end Hierro and Raúl were both called up by the manager, who argued that he had very few matches to get things right before the Euro 2000 championships this summer, and he could not let the clubs choose his side for him. Hierro should have come back for Madrid after a one match suspension, but in his absence Helguera and Julio César kept their places in the centre of defence. Raúl was replaced by Argentinian born B team forward Zárate, brother of the Málaga player, who made his league debut with this match (Betis claimed that he was ineligible given that he was serving a one match suspension in the second division B, but Madrid replied that this did not apply to the first division tie). Both teams were also without their African players, with the home side's Geremi playing for Cameroon and the visitors' Finidi representing Nigeria in the African nations cup. At least Camacho did not name Madrid's Morientes or Betis's Alfonso, and it was the Madrid striker who made the difference, his goal sealing victory after Guti had given them the lead and Ito had been sent off by Bueno Grimal for a second yellow card. Betis keeper Prats scored a consolation goal with a fiercely struck free kick which Casillas got a hand to but could not stop, his second goal of the season. The down side of the match was the serious injury to Savio after a vicious tackle from Otero, and also a shoulder injury to Julio César early in the game (Meca and Karanka were their substitutes). Both players are likely to be out for several weeks, adding to Madrid's injury worries. Betis manager Griguol has worries of his own, and several names have been mentioned as possible replacements if results do not improve rapidly. Madrid rise to seventh in the league, with one game still in hand. Betis stay at 14th.
|First Division - Day Twenty Two|
Valladolid 4 - Deportivo de La Coruña 1
César; Torres Gómez, Heinze, García Calvo, Peña,
Marcos; Jiménez, Lozano, Caminero; Víctor, Shoji Jo. 5-3-2.
Team changes: Valladolid: Heinze, Caminero, Jo for Santamaria, Rodrigo, Alberto / Depor: Víctor for Djalminha.
Leaders Deportivo's bad run continues, and they have now only taken four points from their last six matches. They came up against a Valladolid side playing their best game of the season, with veteran midfielder and ex Spanish international Caminero for once throwing off injury to lead his side to victory. Manager Gregorio Manzano decided to include Japanese star Shoji Jo in the starting line up, and it was his shot that got them off to a good start, with an alert Caminero getting to the rebound to open the scoring. Full of confidence, the home side came forward in waves in the second half, with Jiménez and Shoji Jo, with a delightful dummied pass, setting up goals for Víctor to finish off. Deportivo were sadly missing Djalminha in midfield, and when referee Esquinas Torres sent off Flavio for a second bookable offence around the hour mark the game was all over. Manzano replaced a tired Caminero with Eusebio, and pulled off Shoji Jo fifteen minutes from time to rousing applause from the crowd. Irureta brought on Turu Flores for an off form Pauleta and he did get one back from the penalty spot, but Víctor finished them off for good with his hat-trick a couple of minutes before time. Deportivo now have to face Real Madrid next week, and on current form they are likely to struggle, although Madrid do have a hard cup match on Thursday. Valladolid return to winning ways after a hiccup last week, and in this crazy league they rise to fifteenth with a game in hand (albeit against Real Madrid). The club changed hands this week, and their new owners, a group of local businessmen, must feel that they have made a good investment. Only time will tell.