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Yug - Slo (3-3)
Spa - Nor (0-1)
Spain did it again against Norway; underachieving in a major tournament.
The Norwegians made it hard for the fancied Spaniards and Raul struggled.
With all the talent in their team it's a shame
they can't just relax and show the world what they can do. They seem to perform to their
best against weaker opponents or when they look out of the tournament. They're not out of
the tournament yet and whether Slovenia are a weak side or not remains to be seen. On
paper, we should be in for a good game.
Slovenia surprised a lot of
people against Yugoslavia but they have a habit of scoring early and giving their lead
away. In a recent friendly match, they scored two goals against France in first 10 minutes
and went on to lose 2-3 in injury time. Call them naive but at least they always look like
like scoring when Zhaovic has the ball.
His confidence in front of goal is tremendous
and if George Graham can get his signature after the Euro 2000 tournament, the canny Scot
will have made another shrewd investment, alongside that of Rebrov from the Ukraine.
The pressure is on Spain, who were the group
favourites, while Slovenia are out to have some fun. If Slovenia go in front again,
they'll need to restrict the Spanish in midfield or they'll let in more than three.
The Spanish coach is clearly rattled, after
their defeat against Norway, and anything worse than a convincing win will have his
critics sharpening their knives. It may only be a game of football, but the people at home
want to see their country's desire to win it. Are Spain psychologically weak? We'll see
3-Zeljko Milinovic, 4-Darko Milanic, 5-Marinko Galic
7-Dzoni Novak, 8-Ales Ceh, 11-Miran Pavlin, 13-Mladen Rudonja, 19-Amir Karic
9-Saso Udovic, 10-Zlatko Zahovic
2-Michel Salgado, 3-Agustin Aranzabel, 5-Abelardo, 6-Fernando Hierro
4-Pep Guardiola, 16-Gaizka Mendieta, 21-Juan Carlos Valeron
17-Jose Etxeberria, 10-Raul, 11-Alfonso
Referee: Markus Merk
Zahovic didn't manage to get his side in front early this time, instead it was the Spanish
player Raul, in the fifth minute, who restored some pride to the Catalans
by connecting with his left-foot. No chance for Dabanovic.
Spain came forward again on numerous
occasions, but never managed to extend their lead.
For Slovenia, Udovic was looking dangerous and
they nearly equalised on the stroke of half time; a double save from Canizares keeping the
Spaniards in front.
Slovenia captain, Darko Milanic, entered the
book in the 23rd minute and will miss the next game; against Norway.
Spain didn't have it easy as Slovenia pushed forward straight from the restart.
Raul put a header wide for Spain in the 50th
minute before Slovenia were forward once more, with Zahovic looking lively.
Salgado and Abelardo pushed up for Spain to
try and get a hold on the game. As soon as Zahovic looks quiet, he's there to score the
In the 58th minute Spain think there's an
offside. While everyone is standing around, Canizares is picking the ball out of the net.
Rodonja crosses. Osterich, the substitute, is
in the area with Zahovic who gets the final touch to take his total to
three in the tournament.
Two minutes later, Spain are back in front. Exteberria
smashed a cracking right-foot shot in after running on with Mendieta's pass.
Slovenia didn't lie down, Galic trying to
bring them level; his header saved.
Zahovic also tried an ambitious lob from the
middle of the pitch, when he saw Canizares off his line. His team-mates just looked at him
in amazement; a pass might have been better.
If the Slovenes had passed better in the
Spanish half, they could have been more in the match. Spain greatful that the stray balls
came to them. Three points for Spain and a big sigh of relief I'm sure.
Slovenia 1 -- Spain 2
Man of the Match:
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