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Spanish sides earn Olé

Published: Thursday 19 September 2002, 17.45CET
Today's newspapers suggest Spanish sides will rule the roost in the UEFA Champions League this year.

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Published: Thursday 19 September 2002, 17.45CET

Spanish sides earn Olé

Today's newspapers suggest Spanish sides will rule the roost in the UEFA Champions League this year.
It has taken one matchday for the Spanish teams to establish themselves as the benchmark for the new UEFA Champions League season.

Spanish juggernaut
Tougher tests might await them, but Real Madrid CF, Valencia CF, FC Barcelona and RC Deportivo La Coruña served notice with opening-night wins that the Spanish juggernaut shows no sign of slowing down.

'We are the best'
The Madrid-based sports daily Marca acknowledged the fact with the headline "Monster!" and applauded "the almost risible superiority of Spanish football in Europe". "We are the best," it continued. "For the first time in history all the Spanish clubs have started with a win in the Champions League." So what is the Spanish for hubris?

Bayern blasted
Following Madrid and Valencia's defeats of AS Roma and Liverpool FC on Tuesday, Deportivo followed up with a 3-2 win against FC Bayern München at the Olympiastadion while Barcelona beat Club Brugge KV by the same margin. Roy Makaay's hat-trick did for Bayern and the German club's website said: "All good things come to an end, including Bayern's 29-game unbeaten record at home in the Champions League."

German 'debacle'
The German tabloid Bild was less circumspect. Of Bayern it said: "Terrible... first home flop in five years." Add to that Bayer 04 Leverkusen's 6-2 dismantling by Greek champions Olympiakos Piraeus FC and defeat for BV Borussia Dortmund at Arsenal FC the night before and you get a "debacle". "Bayern and Bayer lose in black day for German football," was the grim summation of events.

Mixed fortunes
Italy's reputation is also riding less high than it has in the past. Internazionale FC were held by Rosenborg BK on Tuesday and yesterday there were mixed fortunes for the other Serie A sides.

Inzaghi dream
After scoring both home goals in a 2-1 win over RC Lens, Milan AC's Filippo Inzaghi took his European tally to 37 - two short of Alessandro Altobelli's Italian record. "My real dream isn't to be top scorer but overall victory in the Champions League," he told his club's website. Meanwhile, the Milan-based Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper offered the proverbial pat on the back with the headline: "Boom boom Inzaghi."

Sting in tail for Juve
However, Juventus were "stung in Rotterdam" by their 1-1 draw with Feyenoord. Pierre van Hooijdonk's 75th-minute equaliser from a thrice-taken free-kick left the Gazzetta to lament: "Van Hooijdonk is famous the world over for his set-pieces. If you give him three goes, he is not going to miss."

Five-star United
Elsewhere Manchester United FC started as they mean to finish - with a convincing victory at Old Trafford, venue of this year's final. Tournament debutants Maccabi Haifa were on the receiving end of a 5-2 defeat which, said the Guardian newspaper, "left the Israeli champions wondering where they left their L-plates".

Dynamo 'too bright'
The other Premiership side in action, Newcastle United FC, were hit by a Maksim Shatskikh stunner in a 2-0 reverse at FC Dynamo Kyiv. The Ukrainians were "too bright", wrote the Daily Telegraph. "It was just as well for Newcastle that Dynamo were missing nine senior players because of injury," it added.

Last updated: 20/09/02 12.26CET

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