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Essay: On Rewatching the 2000 All-Spanish Final - Real Madrid 3-0 Valencia.

It's strange, looking back, at how blurry the footage is and to take yourself back to a moment where you couldn't know what would happen next.

Nicolas Axelrod

It seems now as though this final, the first to be contested by teams from the same country, is the one that is most forgotten. It wasn't the first "in colour" and it had no Galacticos. And at any rate, to experience it properly you have to try to remember a time when the players weren't legends, yet. They weren't your gods or your idols in quite the way they have come to be impressed upon your memory.

The players were young or younger, and they were contesting a final that had fans all over the world watching, hearts in mouths, palms sweating, dazed with anxiety and anticipation.

You should try to shed the benefit of hindsight and to return to the purity of that moment; at kick-off, waiting for the whistle to blow. You should try to remember how you couldn't know what the result would be. There was uncertainty. There was a time before the scoreline - 3-0 to Real Madrid - became so ingrained in your memory that the memory itself lost its anxiety, leading you to remember even the uncertainty of the opening minutes as calmer than they were.

And when you manage that, it allows you to observe that Valencia seemed to start the game as the more confident team. They made the first chance. They seemed to be dominant in the first 10 minutes when the game was slightly more stretched before it devolved into a midfield scuffle - forwards losing the ball, midfielders from both teams struggling to get it back.

Watching in 2000 was a more solitary and intense experience. There were fewer distractions mid-game. There was no Twitter. The Internet was slower. There were no instant memes, no journalists live-blogging, no sports blogs hysterically analyzing and pointing out to you what you should be noticing or thinking or feeling in real time. No twitter memes ever-so-slightly colouring your memories even as they were being created.

Games seemed to go by faster. And the experience of watching the first all-Spanish final in 2000 was a more intimate one.

The Teams

Real Madrid:

Iker Casillas, Salgado, Helguera, Karanka, Campo, McManaman, Morientes, Redondo, Carlos, Raul, Anelka.


Canizares, Angloma, Pellegrino, Djukic, Angulo, G. Mendieta, Gerard, Gerardo, Kily Gonzalez, Lopez, Farinos.


(Italy) Stefano Braschi.


Vincente del Bosque (Real Madrid) and Hector Cuper (Valencia).

The Venue

Paris was a place full of happy memories for Real Madrid, who had won the first Champions League trophy in 1961 there. The game in 2000 was played at the Stade de France. The majority of the fans were supporting Real Madrid. Scanning the crowd, the most interesting thing is the relative absence of club merchandise. There are a few jerseys in the crowd, but most of the spectators have shown up wearing their own clothes.

The Game

Redondo played beautifully. McManaman, about to score the goal of his career, seemed nervous at first, though he grew into the game and covered the left-wing beautifully while Roberto Carlos charged forward. At one point in the second half McManaman even made a perfect sliding tackle in his own box to take the ball off Mendieta with the score still at 1-0 in the minutes before he would score at the other end.

Nicolas Anelka, the soul of calm and the prototypical big-performance-player, had a prepossessing and influential game. Raul was magnificent and so was Salgado. In my own memory, they are the standouts.

The First Goal '39

Fernando Morientes scored the first.

Watching again, the strangest effect is the silence after Roberto Carlos's free kick. It was a disappointing one, bouncing off Valencia's defensive wall. But somehow, the ball made its way via Anelka to Salgado in the box and then there was a sudden silence. As though the crowd could tell what would happen - a moment of collective anticipation. Salgado tricked his way past his marker, determined to keep the ball in the area. When he crossed, it didn't seem possible. His marker had his arms around him, holding him back and he actually fell to the ground as he got his foot under the ball. But it was perfect. Morientes scarcely had to move, he'd been lurking at the far-post. He rose in a graceful movement and headed the ball in past Canizares. He then ran, screaming with happiness, his mouth wide-open, pointing into the air and blowing kisses before sliding on his knees, with Karanka falling to the ground with him to hug him.

Fernando Morientes wore purple cleats. That was still unusual enough at the time for it to be memorable; surrounded as he was by players in plain black with white markings.

The Second Goal '67

Steve McManaman's ridiculous and unlikely volley was scored with the game still full of tension and momentum balanced on a knife's edge. The ball fell nearly straight down on the 18-yard line as a defender cleared and McManaman's body seemed to tilt back as his foot connected with the ball with his leg almost at a right-angle with his body. It was a fragile moment. He looked as though he should have fallen back, but he didn't. His shot didn't look as though it should have any power, but it did. The ball arced, bouncing once, and then nestled into the goal.The celebration was rather more restrained. Maybe he couldn't believe what he'd done.

He ran happily to the centre-circle, smiling. The players jumping around to grab at him seemed more enthusiastic about his splendid goal than he was, though.

The Third Goal '75

Valencia were a side that, at their best, played a sparkling brand of counterattacking football. But they were two goals down already and the third goal summed up their problem. It was Raul. With the ball in the Real Madrid box, it was cleared and he starting running almost the length of the pitch, rushing into the space the Valencia defence was forced to leave behind as they attacked. Pellegrino, a flash of orange on the left trying to salvage the situation, arrived on time, but as Raul scored, the ball actually seemed to skim his heels as he arrived at the goal-line trying to clear. Raul had rounded Canizares (who had done everything right) and sent the ball into the net at an acute angle.

Opportunistic, finished calmly, with a shade of cheek about it: it was a typical Raul goal.

The game, now, beyond a doubt.

Manolo Sanchis lifted the cup having played that night and thus surpassed his own club record for European Cup appearances, held jointly with Gento, until the final.

Real Madrid at the turn of this century seemed to be a team that won big things easily. It had been an indifferent season in the league, under a new coach. But it was the first all-Spanish final and the greatest team in Spanish history won it.

Tomorrow, the Champions League will have its first derby in the final with Real Madrid against Atletico Madrid.

Hala Madrid!

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