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Real Madrid thumbnail sketches

Posted: Wed May 24, 2000 at 9:05 a.m EDT

Coach

Vicente Del Bosque - first season 13-6-8 league record 2-0-2 record in World Club Championships 5-3-2 record in Champions League
Took over for John Toshack in November. Responsible for lifting Real Madrid out of the relegation zone and into the Champions League final and the upper echelon of the Spanish table.. Has done a brilliant job of managing a club that had been marred by injury and internal turmoil.. In his third spell as head coach. Apart from his four-day reign during January 1996 (the only game was a 5-0 league win over Athletic Club in Bilbao!), had also been in charge for an 11-match spell between March 13 and June 30, 1994.. Played for Real Madrid for 11 seasons and helped the club win five league and four cup titles. Earned 18 caps as a player for Spain.. Played in the 1981 European Cup final in Paris, a 1-0 loss for Real Madrid against Liverpool.. Earned his coaching badge in 1984 and has been involved with the development system of Real Madrid for over 15 years, apart from taking over the first team after the dismissals of Benito Floro, Jorge Valdano and, now, John Toshack.

Probable Starters

Goalkeeper

Iker Casillas - No. 27, 19 years old, first season
Celebrated his 19th birthday on Saturday.. Has been the relevation of the season for Real Madrid.. Despite his inexperience, has been one of the top goalkeepers in the league this season.. Goalkeeper from the Spanish National sides that won the UEFA Meridian Cup and World Youth Championship in 1999.. Made his 'debut' (he didn't actually play) as a unused sub at the age of 16 against Rosenborg on 11-27-97.. Was given the opportunity to play in September when both Illgner and Bizarri were injured.. Has earned the starting goalkeeping position by displaying excellent reflexes and raw ability.

Defenders

Michel Salgado - No. 2, 24 years old, first season
May not be able to play after hurting his right ankle on Friday against Valladolid.. Struggled at the beginning of the season and lost his starting position to Geremi. Has since taken advantage of the opportunity to play on a regular basis and has re-established himself as the starting right back. Missed the second leg of the semifinals vs. Bayern Munich through suspension. Brought in from Celta Vigo last summer to replace the departed Christian Panucci. Plays on the right side of the defense- he is very explosive at the offensive end as he will push forward on the wing. Earned a lot of respect in 1997-98, but 1998-99 proved to be his banner year.. Best right back in the league last season at Celta.. A team player, he will run and run and will always look to pass first, shoot second.

Ivan Campo - No. 12, 26 years old, second season
Likely will start in central defense for the injured Fernando Hierro.. Has been much maligned during his two year stint in Madrid, but recently has played well alongside Aitor Karanka.. Was not happy at times last season in his role as a sub.. Always looks forward to the challenge of covering the star forward.. Although he is big, he'd rather steal the ball clean rather than get physical.. Had a successful loan spell in 1997-98 with Mallorca.. Earned a call to the National Team in 1998 - made his debut vs. Sweden on March 25, 1998.. His play in the back line allowed Mallorca to reach the Spanish Cup Final in 1998.. Mallorca lost on penalties to Barcelona - his was saved by Ruud Hesp.. Real Madrid are now his 6th team since 1992.. Has excellent anticipation and is dependable in the air on crosses.

Aitor Karanka - No. 18, 26 years old, third season
Very good in playing in the middle of a zone defense.. Likes to get the attack started after winning the ball.. Central defender brought in to Madrid in 1997 in a high profile $6 million dollar transfer.. Was supposed to replace Rafael Alkorta, who returned to the Basque country.. Made his international debut in April, 1995 in a EC qualifier vs. Armenia.. Member of the 1996 Olympic squad.. Missed the last few months of the 1997-98 season with a heart condition.. Reliable defender who fights for every ball.. Has been in good form in recent weeks and has developed a good relationship with Ivan Campo.

Roberto Carlos (BRA) - No. 3, 27 years old, fourth season
Had an ordinary season last year, but still among the game's elite players.. His smile is one of the most recognized in soccer.. Has been in good form this season, but on occasion can have his defensive weaknesses exposed by teams with solid players on the right wing.. Starting left back on the Brazil National Team.. Has thighs like tree trunks. Played in 1993, 1995 and 1997 Copa Americas - Member of 1995 Copa America All-Tournament team.. Many said he was too tired and burned out during the World Cup, where he was not at his best.. Posseses tremendous power and speed, but sometimes needs to use his head more.. Made his international debut at the age of 18 in 1992.. Known for his amazing free kicks - his shot in 1997 vs. France in the Tournoi de France was considered by many to be the goal of the year.. Attack-minded - sometimes criticized for being too offensive minded.. Had a bad experience in his one year in Italy but has blossomed in Spain.. Real Madrid has put a $100 million price tag on him and has extended his contract to 2002.

Midfielders

Fernando Redondo (ARG) - No. 6, 30 years old, sixth season
Is currently in outstanding form. One of the top defensive midfielders in the world.. Shocked Manchester United defender Henning Berg in the quarterfinals with trick move that helped set up a goal from Raul.. Nobody protects the ball better than him.. Was sidelined with injury for part of last season, allowing his protege Guti the opportunity to excel.. Married to Natalia, the daughter of Jorge Solari, former Argentine International and famous coach.. Elegant midfielder, nicknamed the `Prince' by the media.. Comes from an upper-middle class family in Argentina, his father owns a meat production plant.. Has suffered a terrible run of knee injuries in recent years, but has returned to form. Had long and publicized dispute with Argentine National Team coach Daniel Passarella over the past couple of seasons over the length of his hair.. Despite being in outstanding form and having a reasonable haircut, he was not called to the squad for France.. He does an excellent job of reading the defense and uses his skills and vision to create offensive chances.

Ivan Helguera - No. 15, 25 years old, first season
Has been used by Del Bosque primarily as a defensive midfielder, but has also been sued as a central defender and a libero in recent weeks.. Had an excellent season last year with Espanyol after failing to get playing time while playing for AS Roma.. Shows a lot of leadership on the field by taking the ball and organizing the attack.. Solid in the air and has good field vision.. Has the ability to pass the ball to his teammates in the best situations.. Has performed well this season and has developed an excellent relationship himself next to Redondo.

Steve McManaman (ENG) - No. 8, first season
Played one of his best games of the season in the quarterfinal, second leg match in Old Trafford against Manchester United. Sent Raul with a through ball that gave Real Madrid a 2-0 advantage.. Had a tough time adjusting to life in Madrid at the beginning of the season and the change affected his play on the field. Had trouble trying to find his role on the team, but now is in excellent form.. Normally plays on the left wing, but has been playing on the right side of midfield in recent weeks.. Can be a dominant force and control a game from his position.. Has played a key role in Real Madrid's excellent "possession" game in recent weeks.. Nearly joined Barcelona in 1997.. Only four league goals in 28 appearances last season with Liverpool after 11 goals in 1997-98.. Was very sad to leave Liverpool, where he has been since he was a boy.. Hopes that by playing at Real Madrid, he will be able to get back into the England squad.. Did not sign a contract extension with Liverpool so that he can leave on a transfer.. Possesses great skills and balance..

Elvir Baljic (BIH) - No. 20, 25 years old, first season
Likely replacement for Savio on the left side of midfield.. Has come back from a long time knee injury that kept him out of action for five months.. High profile $15million signing from Fenerbahce of Turkey by former manager John Toshack.. Left footed forward, who takes on defenses by facing the goal and beating them off the dribble.. Played one season at Fenerbahce after spending three seasons with Bursaspor.. Has 52 goals in the last three seasons in Turkey, including 19 last year and 21 in 1996-97.. Bosnian International.. Needs to continue to show that he is worth the money paid for him..

Forwards

Raul - No. 7, 22 years old, sixth season
Has brought his game to a new level during the last two seasons. Has become one of the top players in the world.. The idol of Madrid.. Had his best season last year in scoring 25 goals, leading the league scoring for the first time. Had his first league hat trick vs. Valladolid last season.. Third in the Champions League this season with nine goals. Has great instincts for a youngster.. Very fit and very intelligent - reads the game well.. Has an uncanny eye for the goal.. Teenage sensation of Spanish Football when he took the jersey of Real legend Emilio Butragueno and exploded 6 seasons ago.. A lot of controversy surrounded his being left off of the national team for Euro 96... Tends to play on the left but has a license to roam.. Very good one-on-one player. Has taken on big responsibilities for someone his age.. He learns very quickly from mistakes and rarely commits the same error twice.. Had a miserable tournament in France two years ago.

Nicolas Anelka (FRA) - No. 19, 21 years old, first season
Injured his right knee on Friday against Valladolid. Could be ruled out of Wednesday's final.. High profile $35 million transfer from Arsenal.. Was considered to be a bust until the last couple weeks. Had been plagued by knee injuries and poor form early this season. Had been used on the right side of midfield instead of his normal striker position. Refused to train in February and was suspended from the club for 45 days. Had his suspension reduced to 27 days after injuries at Madrid warranted his return.. Has exploded since moving into the forward position for the injured Fernando Morientes.. Scored in each leg of the Champions League semifinal vs. Bayern Munich.. His transfer was the talk of Europe last summer, with Lazio apparently ready to sign him on numerous occasions.. Signed a six-year deal in February 1997 with Arsenal at the age of 17, much to the annoyance of Paris St. Germain.. With Ian Wright and Denis Bergkamp gelling so well together for the Gunners three years ago, had to wait a little bit before getting his chance.. Got his chance in 1998-99 - scoring 17 league goals - tied for 2nd in the Premier League.. Appears to be the forward France has been looking for since Cantona retired.

Substitutes

Julio Cesar (BRA) - No. 23, 24 years old, first season
Brazilian central defender who missed three months of action with a shoulder injury.. Had been a starter last fall and was in good form before his injury.. Returned to action last month and has played well since his return.. Has displaced both Ivan Campo and Aitor Karanka along the back line. Signed from Valladolid over the summer.. Known for his physical presence and his ability to quickly shut down defenders.. Possessed excellent speed.. Rarely makes a mental mistake.. Played at America in Mexico before coming to Valladolid in 1996.. Has never been capped for Brazil.

Fernando Hierro - No.4, 32 years old, 10th season
Ruled out of Wednesday's final after playing only 20 minutes against Valladolid on Friday. Has not played in the Champions League since a hamstring injury in the final match of the second group stage against Rosenborg. Has been practicing for the last couple of weeks with the club and should be able to return to his central defender role in the final.. One of the best penalty takers in the world.. If he has a weakness, it is that sometimes he is too passive.. Former Madrid coach Fabio Capello called him the "Spanish Baresi". Fittingly his names translates to "iron" in Spanish.. Captain of Real Madrid.. Very tough in the air.. Never gets tired and is a rock of consistency in the defensive midfield for the Spanish National Team, central defense for Real Madrid.. One of the best passers in the game, can find open teammates anywhere on the field.. Has been with Real Madrid since 1989.. Once played the striker role in the early 90's and scored 21 goals to finish second in the league in scoring in 91-92, but has since moved back into the central defense.. Has a cannon for a right foot, and is not shy about shooting from 35 meters.. Has been troubled by a cyatic nerve injury in his back, an injury that he has had since last season. The injury has affected his consistency this season. His 23 international goals for Spain ranks him 3rd on Spain's alltime list.

Savio (BRA) - No. 11, 26 years old, third season
Likely to be ruled out of Wednesday's final after suffering a knee injury.. Would have started on the left side of midfield.. Has rebounded from an injury plagued season this year and currently is in good form.. A great dribbler of the ball - he likes to beat player one-on-one.. Spectacular things happen when the ball is at his feet.. Signed in December, 1997 from Flamengo on a $13million transfer along with Ze Roberto.. Nicknamed the `boy with glass ankles'. Can play in the middle behind the forwards, but is likely to be found wreaking havoc on the left side of midfield.. His display of skills often makes him a crowd pleaser.. Has had to scrap and claw for playing time during his three seasons in Madrid. Has often been unhappy with his reserve role, but has taken advantage of his chances when given the opportunity to play. Was part of the Brazil National Team in the mid 1990's but injuries and lack of consistency at the club level have kept him out of the National Team since.

Geremi (CMR) - No. 21, 21 years old, first season
May replace Michel Salgado at the right back position should the injury to Salgado's right ankle not heal in time for the match.. Played well in the preseason in the defensive midfield position next to Redondo, but was called upon to play at right back for the slumping Michel Salgado earlier this season.. Apparently has a `third lung' - as he can run at a high speeds for a long time. A find by former manager John Toshack - who has seen him play in Turkey.. Apparently was a midfield destroyer last year in Turkey. Has adjusted very well thus far to Real Madrid.

Christian Karembeu (FRA) - No. 22, 29 years old, third season
French International who has been a reserve for much of his three seasons in Madrid.. Very versatile player - he can play any midfield position as well as right back.. Won the 1995 French League title with Nantes in 1995 before moving to Sampdoria.. Made a very public protest, at a Serie A match, of his opposition to French nuclear tests in the South Pacific.. Did not score a league goal in 1997-98 season, but had 3 goals in the UEFA Quarterfinal and Semifinal games in Real Madrid's run to the European title.. 1st player since 1974 Bayern Munich slew to win the Champions Cup and the World Cup in the same year.. Injury prone in his 2 seasons in Madrid - he always seems to be wrapped in tape.. Will be leaving the club at the end of the season.

Bodo Illgner (GER) - No. 1, 33 years old, fourth season
Lost the starting position to Iker Casillas earlier this season.. Well positioned goalkeeper, always seems to get his body in front of the ball.. Joined Real Madrid just before the signing deadline on 8-30-96 for $2.7million.. Won the World Cup in 1990 with West Germany, but quit the National Team after the 1994 World Cup.. Lost his place in 1997-98 to Canizares (now at Valencia) but rebounded at the end of 1997-98 to play in 12 league games and the Champions League Final.. An excellent swimmer, has language degrees in German and English.. Started all 5 matches for Germany at USA '94. Has been plagued by injury and inconsistent play this season.

Sanchis - No. 5, 34 years old, 16th season
Will celebrate his 35th birthday the day before the final.. The veteran continues to play at a high level.. Positions himself well so he never has to run too much.. Smart central defender.. Honors include 7 league titles, 1 UEFA Champions League, 2 UEFA Cups.. Has played under 14 coaches since making his league debut on 12-4-83.. One of only 7 players who have played 400 league matches for Real (Hierro, Santillana, Gento, Pirri, Gamacho and Michel are the others).. Father won the European Cup in 1966 with Madrid.. Former Spanish International with 48 caps.

© 2003 SportsTicker Enterprises, LP


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