|First Division - Day 4|
Deportivo de La Coruña 2 - Barcelona 0
Manuel Pablo, Naybet, Donato, Romero; Mauro Silva, César Sampaio
(Emerson 65'); Víctor (Scaloni 80'), Fran, Turu Flores (Fernando 85');
Diego Tristán. 4-3-2-1.
Team changes: Deportivo: Naybet Sampaio, Víctor, Turu Flores for Helder, Emerson, Scaloni, Valerón / Barça: Dutruel, Reiziger, Petit, Luis Enrique for Arnau, Gerard, De la Peña, Rivaldo.
Deportivo moved back to the top of the first division with a surprisingly easy win over a Barcelona team full of self doubt. Two goals in the second half finished them off, the first a more than 30 metre free kick from 'grandfather' Donato which took a slight deflection off Kluivert (the only man standing in the way), and the second late in the game from Diego Tristán, who left Frank De Boer for dead to score his first in the league this season. The result leaves Barcelona down in ninth place, and manager Serra Ferrer is already being questioned just a few weeks after taking over.
With a tight calendar during the month of September, Deportivo manager Irureta has been rotating several of his players around every match. With Pandiani suspended for two games after his brief outing last week, Valerón not fully fit and Djalminha possibly out for some time, the manager brought back Diego Tristán after leaving him out in midweek, and he kept the Fran-Turu Flores combination that worked so well against Juventus in that match. The big news in Barcelona was an injury to Rivaldo's left ankle that kept him out of this game and also Brazil's next match in a few days' time. With Guardiola, Dani and Zenden also injured and the three silver medal winners still making the long trip back from Sydney, Serra Ferrer brought back Luis Enrique for his first start since his operation in the summer, adding an extra defender in a copy of Deportivo's 4-2-3-1 formation.
The defences were on top from the start, with both sides limited to long range shots which didn't trouble either goalkeeper. Deportivo started to dominate towards the end of the half, and Dutruel, just back from a one-match suspension, saved well from Donato and then Turu. A couple of minutes after the interval Barça could have had a penalty when Sampaio brought down Cocu, but referee Pérez Lasa waved away the visitors claims. Donato tested the waters after a short free kick, his low shot from outside of the area forcing Dutruel to turn the ball away for a corner. Ten minutes later they got another even further out, and seeing that Barça did not think it merited a defensive wall, the Brazilian Spanish international gave it all he could. 'He's surely not going to try from there' said the commentator (where have we heard that before?). He was and he did, and seconds later the ball was in the net.
Serra Ferrer went back to his 3-2-3-2 formation, bringing on Alfonso for Reiziger, and Irureta made his now usual change, Emerson for Sampaio. After Kluivert headed wide the Catalans best chance of the match, Tristán silenced his critics with his goal. Irureta closed up shop, and Deportivo went on to their ninth game without defeat, taking top spot a point ahead of Celta and Valencia. Barcelona have now lost four of their last five matches, and with three vital Champions League matches to come, and the little matter of a game against Real Madrid sandwiched in the middle, some drastic surgery may be needed. The club announced after the game that would stick with the manager for the time being, but it was understood that if they didn't get a result against Milan in the next European game they would be looking for a new boss. Wenger, Capello and all are dusting down their Spanish phrase books.