First Division - Day 11

Zaragoza 3 - Barcelona 1

Zaragoza: Juanmi; Pablo, Lanna, Paco, Sundgren; Acuña, José Ignacio; Juanele (Aragón 80'), Montenegro (Garitano 75'), Vellisca; Jamelli (Yordi 84'). 4-2-3-1.
Barcelona: Arnau; Puyol (Overmars 53'), Abelardo, Petit; Xavi (Gabri 80'), Cocu; Simao, Luis Enrique, Sergi (Gerard 60'); Rivaldo, Kluivert. 3-2-3-2.

Team changes: Zaragoza: No change / Barça: Rivaldo for Alfonso.

1-0. 45. Lanna. Headed corner from left down past Arnau.
2-0. 51. Jamelli. Took ball off Arnau and scored as keeper tried to dribble past him.
3-0. 57. José Ignacio. Header unmarked in penalty area from corner from left.
3-1. 90. Gerard. Headed down into corner from Rivaldo free kick.

Barcelona were humiliated once again this week, falling to their third defeat in a row which leaves Lorenzo Serra Ferrer's job hanging by a thread. Nothing short of a victory next Thursday against the on-form Bruges in the UEFA cup can save the manager's head, and he could even be replaced before that. Zaragoza confirmed their return to form as they controlled the match from start to finish, taking a three goal lead before their opponents pulled one back in the dying minutes with a header from Gerard. José Ignacio and Acuña took charge of midfield, and Juanele and Vellisca created several chances in the first half down the wings against a Barcelona side who didn't seem to be trying. Four minutes before half time Acuña hit the post with a shot, and a minute or so later they took the lead, Lanna coming through to head home a corner from the left.

But worse was to come in the second half. Five minutes in, Petit passed back to Arnau with little threat envisaged. However the defenders stood still in the middle of the field, and Arnau, with nobody to pass to, tried to dribble round the advancing Jamelli. However the forward quickly took the ball off him, and from a wide angle stroked the ball in to the net. The home crowd hooted and jeered the Barcelona players as they roared on their own men, and it was only a matter of time before they added the third, José Ignacio coming in unmarked to head home Montenegro's corner.

Serra Ferrer had no answer, his formation torn apart by the Zaragoza attack. Overmars had replaced Puyol after the second goal, his first appearance since a long lay off for injury, with Sergi dropping back to defence, and after the third Gerard replaced him, risking everything with only two defenders on the field. Rivaldo, returning from international duty with Brazil, brought two good saves out of Juanmi with consecutive free kicks on the edge of the area, but that was all they could muster in the 90 minutes. Barcelona drop to ninth after their fifth league defeat of the season, their worse record since the 1964/5 campaign.

It is no consolation that their bad run has come in November, a traditionally black month for them in recent years, and Serra Ferrer has only a short time left to correct things. He could start with a change to his 3-2-3-2 formation, a system which leaves large gaps at the back, and the morale of his players needs to be hoisted out of the nether reaches. For Zaragoza this was their third victory in four games, and their bad start to the season is behind them as they rise to a comfortable thirteenth place. They will not play again for a fortnight, their game with Real Madrid postponed to January in view of their opponents date in Tokyo.