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Monday, 24 July, 2000, 16:30 GMT 17:30 UK
Madrid: A Real sense of history
Real Madrid - win Europe
Real after winning the 1998 Champions League trophy
Real Madrid are appropriate contestants in the first World Club Championship.

The Spanish giants have won more European trophies than any other club, and despite this season's poor domestic form will be among the favourites for the world title.

Coach John Toshack's sacking this season has not stopped the rot at home, with Real Zaragoza unthinkably winning 5-1 in the famous Bernabau stadium in December.

But while the Madrid giants are nearer the relegation zone than the top of the Spanish Primera Liga, their Champions League form has been excellent.

Their 1998 win in that competition started them on the road to Brazil, by qualifying them for the Intercontinental trophy which they won in December 1998.

But more importantly for the millions of Real fans, that 1-0 Champions League win over Juventus in May 1998 ended 32 years of hurt waiting for their record seventh win in the competition.

The club have also won the Spanish League title a record 27 times, and despite their current predicament domestically the current team are well-equipped to live up to this history - on paper at least.

For Brazilians Roberto Carlos, Savio and Julio Cesar, the World Club Championship represents a homecoming.


Roberto Carlos' free kick against France in 1997 made him a star
Defensive pair Cesar and Carlos are key figures in arguably the world's top national side, where they have competed with the best at international level.

Carlos, the left-back with the massive thighs and powerful build, is particularly renowned for his vicious free-kicks.

He crosses almost as effectively as Manchester United's David Beckham, and the potential meeting between the pair in the World Club final is a mouthwatering proposition.

McManaman
McManaman wiil be a threat if he is fit
British fans will be aware of two of Real's summer imports, who have both struggled to leave their mark in Spain.

Back in his own country there has been as much talk about England midfielder Steve McManaman's salary as his football.

The former Liverpool man impressed in early season games before suffering an injury which has coincided with Real's dip in form.

It is hard to be as charitable towards Nicolas Anelka, the man who left Arsenal under a cloud

His performances at his new club have been poor, and his attitude is still failing to live up to his 23.5m transfer fee.

He was even criticised by coach Vicente del Bosque for not stripping off quickly enough before a subsitution.

Deadly duo

From the outset it was hard to see where Anelka would fit in to a first choice Madrid line-up.

Raul
Raul: Spain's young gun
If you want a British comparison, Raul Gonzalez and Fernando Morientes are the Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen of Spain.

These two homegrown strikers enjoy hero-status from their club's fans.

But they have not hung on to their places ahead of Anelka due to any popularity contest.

The diminutive Raul was top scorer in La Liga last season with 25 goals, and possesses exquisite control, particularly when finishing.

Morientes is a larger man, but only slightly less skilful, and both have a staggering strike rate in Spain's in-form national team.

Between the young Spanish partnership, and a defence containing veteran international star Fernando Hierro, are a range of midfield options.

Christian Karembeau was a member of France's World Cup-winning squad, while Argentinian Redondo is another experienced international.

Unlike Manchester United Real are competing in their domestic cup competition, albeit with a bye in the round they would normally enter.

That saved their fans more potential embarrassment by avoiding the chance of a cup upset at the hands of lowly opposition.

The trip to Brazil is a welcome chance to lift the gloom in the Spanish capital.

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