First Division - Day 4

Racing Santander 0 - Real Madrid 0

Racing: Ceballos; Pineda, Nafti, Mellberg, Sietes; Manjarín, Espina (Colsa 68'), Jaime, Amavisca (Tais 80'); Rushfeldt (Moran 55'), Bestchastnykh. 4-4-2.
Real Madrid: Casillas; Michel Salgado, Karanka, Hierro, Roberto Carlos; Figo, Iván Helguera (Tote 66'), Flavio Conceiçao (Makelele 46'), Munitis; Guti, Raúl. 4-4-2.

Team changes: Racing: Rushfeldt for Julio Alvarez / Madrid: Hierro, Raúl for Makelele, Solari.

Goals: None.

It has been raining for several days now in Spain, and this match was a bit of a wash out in all senses of the phrase. A waterlogged pitch constantly stopped play and forced the players to kick the ball up in the air to keep it moving. The result was an inevitable goal-less draw, neither side able to make any breach in their opponents' defences despite Racing being reduced to ten men for the whole of the second half.

That didn't mean there weren't any goal chances though. Both keepers were kept hard at work, with Ceballos in particular saving twice from Guti in the first half and from Raúl and Roberto Carlos in the second, and Casillas stopping shots from Manjarín, Espina and Colsa. Munitis should have scored against his old team just before the break, but he dithered and allowed Nafti to clear, and Guti hit the post in the second half.

Raúl finally returned to the Madrid starting line up and played the 90 minutes, the only change to the side that beat Bayer Leverkusen midweek. That meant that Hierro made his first start in the league, and he was instrumental in keeping the goal clean when Racing came forward. Goiko decided to keep the same block of players who just lost at Barcelona last week, which meant that Pineda and Nafti kept their places in defence. The only change was the inclusion of Norwegian international Rushfeldt instead of youngster Julio Alvarez, himself on loan from Real Madrid. Strangely, with so many players out injured/suspended/at the Olympics, Goiko left Vivar Dorado out of the squad, one of the regulars in last season's team when Benítez was in charge. He may however get a chance in the next match, with Bestchastnykh being the third Racing player to be sent off this season after insulting first a linesman and then the referee in what was apparently reasonable Spanish.

The result keeps Real Madrid in fifth place, just two points behind leaders Deportivo who they play in their next match in two weeks time. Racing have yet to win, with only two points to show for their troubles, but they have already played Deportivo, Barcelona and Real Madrid (one of the little quirks of the league calendar this year) and so perhaps they are not as badly off as it looks. With a two week rest to recover some of their injured players, the manager is hoping to have a fuller squad to choose from for their next match at bottom club Mallorca.