Spain: Cañizares; Manuel Pablo, Nadal,
Hierro, Aranzábal; Víctor (Mendieta 79'), Xavi, Valerón,
Vicente (Luis Enrique 83'); Raúl, Diego Tristán (Morientes 70').
Austria: Wohlfahrt; Baur, Hiden, Kogler; Hörtnagel, Flögel; Ibertsberger (Winklhofer 69'), Herzog, Prilasnig; Vastic Brunmayr 65'), Weissenberger (Kitzbichler 57').
1-0. 44. Diego Tristán. Beat offside trap to take Valerón through ball and score.
2-0. 78. Morientes. Turned and shot wide of keeper after Valerón found the gap.
3-0. 84. Morientes. Headed Mendieta corner down into bottom corner of net.
4-0. 90. Mendieta. Left foot shot into bottom corner after Morientes laid ball back.
Hello again everybody and happy new season to you all. No sooner has it finished but it starts again. Are the holidays getting older or am I just getting shorter? Or should that be the other way round? I knew I shouldn't have had that last drink. Anyway here we are once again in the Mestalla stadium to watch the "selección" close out their classification for next year's World Cup. Our opponents today are Austria, who my friend Goran says used to have a much better team a hundred years ago than they do now. He tells me an apparently true story about a member of the Habsburg family who was talking to a friend of his not long after the collapse of their Empire, when his team was about to take on the Magyars. "Austria Hungary match next week" said his friend. "Oh yes?" he replied, "who are we playing?" (actually, I don't understand it either, but don't tell Goran).
Anyway on to football, and Camacho is having a bit of a problem cobbling together a midfield for this match. Guardiola has gone walk about, Iván Helguera and Baraja are both suspended and injured and Sergio and Mendieta have just changed teams, so our manager calls up Xavi and Vicente from the under 21 side plus Albelda and José Ignacio, both of whom have yet to make their debuts. Mendieta is called up anyway, but as Camacho is a bit worried about what reception he might get from the Valencia fans after he left them to join Lazio, so he is not in the starting line up. To top it all Sergi has got a migraine worrying too much about whether Coco will take his place at the Nou Camp, so Aranzábal is told by Camacho to come back down from the stands just as he is tucking in to his pre-match hot dog to make up the side (if he had only said we would have brought our boots).
Thank god the Deportivo players are all right though, and four of them (Manuel Pablo, Víctor, Valerón and Diego Tristán) are in the starting line up for the first time ever. At the other end is old friend Wohlfahrt, the man who let nine in against us two seasons ago, but he says he is more frightened of his wife than of the Spanish strikers. He is soon in action, stopping shots from Raúl, Hierro and Xavi, but just before the break two of the Depor boys combine to put us in front. That makes us a bit happier at half time, but Austria can score if we are not careful, with Vastic going close on a couple of occasions. Camacho brings on Morientes and the Real Madrid striker makes the difference, scoring from another good pass by Valerón.
Then it's Mendieta's turn, and no worries, at least 90% of the crowd cheer him on with only a few idiots whistling at him at first. Albelda wants to make his debut - it's his home ground and also his birthday today - but Camacho doesn't let sentiment take over and brings on Luis Enrique to make sure, an unpopular decision also because he takes off another local player Vicente, who has had a brilliant game. Just as this is happening Mendieta takes a quick corner, and with the Austrians still trying to work out why the crowd are booing Morientes heads the ball into the empty net. The Real Madrid striker dedicates both his goals to his young daughter with the cradle celebration made famous by Bebeto, but it so long since he last scored that the girl is probably already in high school.
And to top off the fiesta who else but Mendieta, hitting a left foot shot wide of Wohlfahrt after Morientes touches back a cross from the left in injury time. A four nil result that flatters Spain, but who cares as we are all but mathematically qualified for Japan and Korea. We still have to finish it off with a visit to another Habsburg stronghold Liechtenstein, but unless we lose 10-0 and Austria beat Israel by the same score, we can start planning for the Far East. Kampai!