| Manuel Labor reports.....
Copa del Rey
|First Division - Day Twenty Three|
Deportivo de La Coruña 5 - Real Madrid 2
Manuel Pablo, Donato, Schurrer, Romero; Jaime, Mauro Silva; Víctor,
Djalminha, Fran; Makaay. 4-2-3-1.
Team changes: Depor: Jaime, Djalminha for Flavio, Pauleta / Madrid: Helguera for McManaman.
Once again the form books were turned upside down in this topsy-turvy season, with a Real Madrid unbeaten in any competition in two months falling to a crushing defeat against a Deportivo side who have only picked up four points from the last seven matches and who were eliminated from the cup mid-week against second division Osasuna. Del Bosque decided not to change a winning team (not by much anyway), and brought in Sanchis for Ognjenovic from the side which beat Zaragoza in the cup. Casillas was preferred in goal, even though Illgner was apparently back to full fitness. Djalmniha returned to the Deportivo side, but they were missing the suspended Flavio in midfield. During the week it looked as if Irureta would play Turu Flores alone up front in an attempt to break their run of games without scoring, but he finally opted for Makaay, leaving Turu and Pauleta on the bench. Turu was to make his mark at the end of the game however, and the forgotten star of last season who scored three in three games against Madrid returned to finish them off with another pair. Djalminha was in his element in this game, tormenting the Madrid defence with his tricks which included a back flick with his heel over his own head which Denilson would have been proud of. Madrid were finally starting to show the pressure from an intensive program of matches which is expected to get worse before the end of this month, with the match against Valladolid finally brought forward to Tuesday 15th, two days before their cup second leg with Mérida, to avoid another clash with Camacho's international side. They had no answer to this revitalised Coruña side, and the introduction of Ognjenovic, Meca and then McManaman for Helguera, Morientes (who was injured scoring their first goal) and Guti early in the second half only made things worse. Still they are still in a strong position in the league only six points behind second placed Zaragoza with a game in hand, and more importantly for them no further away from Barcelona than they were at the start of the day. Deportivo finally get their form back, and they now have a four point lead over Zaragoza at the top, not as big as their lead earlier in the season but it appears their bad run is over.
Atlético de Madrid 2 - Zaragoza 2
Molina; Aguilera, Gamarra, Santi, Capdevila; Bejbl, Hugo Leal, Solari;
Valerón; Kiko, Hasselbaink. 4-3-1-2.
Team changes: Atlético: Aguilera, Hasselbaink for Gaspar, Roberto / Zaragoza: Acuña, José Ignacio, Vellisca, Milosevic for Helguera, Aragón, Garitano, Radimov.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink returned to the Atlético side after a two match suspension and demonstrated why Tottenham and a host of foreign clubs are watching him closely with two goals in the first hour of this game. According to local press reports, Atlético may not be able to pay the transfer payment due at the end of the season in view of the legal administration in place at the club, and this would mean that he would be a free agent. Other reports claim that he is not receiving the full salary he was promised by the Gil management as part of this was payable offshore, which the administrator cannot do. In any case Hasselbaink did not let this affect him on the field of play (an appropriate expression that, given his play-acting for the penalty, which Sir Laurence Olivier would have been proud of), and his second goal was a work of art, even if an international keeper of Juanmi's stature should have got closer than he did. Atlético did however make the mistake of taking their foot off the pedal, a mistake when confronted by a team as dangerous as Zaragoza, and with everyone guilty of Milosevic watching, up stepped Yordi to make amends for his two easy misses last week. Txetxu Rojo smelled blood, and an inspired substitution brought on Garitano to take a free kick on the edge of the area and curl the ball out of Molina's reach to level the score. Zaragoza, who had Toro Acuña back in the side after an injury and Milosevic after a one match suspension, hold on to second place, a point ahead of Barcelona. Atlético, who could have moved up to the top half of the table with a win, find themselves back down in thirteenth place, only three points from the relegation places again. On this form they shouldn't stay there for long, and with Baraja returning from a long injury to shore up midfield and Kiko returning slowly to his old form, they should avoid any real upset. That is, assuming the wheels don't fall off with the legal administration following it's slow process through the courts. This week Jesus Gil's wife was called to make a statement in court, and fans organised their umpteenth protest at the Neptuno Square before the match. Right now things are relatively calm, although many player may leave at the end of the season. Watch this space.