|First Division - Day 11|
Real Madrid 2 - Barcelona 0
Casillas; Michel Salgado, Hierro, Pavón, Raúl Bravo; Figo,
Makelele, Zidane, McManaman; Morientes (Iván Helguera 63'), Raúl.
Team changes: Madrid: Hierro, Makelele for Iván Helguera, Celades / Barcelona: Gabri, Overmars for Luis Enrique, Saviola.
This was it. The big one. The match they call the derby even though it is played between teams from cities 600Km apart. Real Madrid, verging on their worst ever start to the season in the league but winning everything in Europe, trying to find a way to fit big money signing Zidane in to their formation but playing better without him. Barcelona, starting afresh with a new team after a disappointing first season under new management, a stop-start season so far which has not yet won over their fans. All the talk before the match though was about the Brazilians. An unprecedented ruling by FIFA allowed Rivaldo and Roberto Carlos to take part in this match before joining the Brazilian squad for their midweek World cup qualifier.
However an injury to the Real Madrid left back meant that doctors ruled him out, even though the player himself said he was fit enough to play. Raúl declared himself fit though after suffering from gastric enteritis all week and was included in the starting line up, and his namesake, B team left back Raúl Bravo covered for Roberto Carlos, but the surprise was the inclusion of Pavón, with Iván Helguera left on the bench at first. Pavón has been playing well recently, and with Helguera having only played a few minutes after recovering from a broken toe, Del Bosque went for continuity rather than experience. Rexach took an opposite line, bringing back Overmars for his first start since recovering from glandular fever, and leaving his exciting youngster Saviola on the bench. Rivaldo was there, but the big absence was Luis Enrique, who will be out for another couple of weeks after injuring himself in the last match.
As it was the match was disappointing, with few chances created for either side. If anything Barcelona had the better of the opening minutes, but it was Madrid took the lead, the ball falling to Morientes off De Boer's back after Raúl headed in McManaman's cross. The only other incident in the first half was an angry clash between Rivaldo and Hierro, and the second half was even duller, with Casillas saving well from a diving Gabri header in Barcelona's only real attempt at goal and substitute Helguera putting Madrid's best chance wide. But with Saviola on the pitch and Barcelona throwing everyone forward, Figo made it two on his 29th birthday after Raúl stepped over Makelele's cross on a late breakaway. The result takes Real Madrid up to seventh in the table, just three points behind their opponents, who drop to third.