Contenders- UEFA Cup battle
These teams are all contenders
for spots in UEFA, but some may be considered dark horses to win it all.
Betis was handed a spot in the UEFA Cup by Madrid's
victory in the Champions' League. With some new signings this year, Betis will hope to
accomplism much more. Their line-up is truly World-Class. The new star is Denilson, the
most expensive player in the World. Fans are hoping that he combines well with star
Nigerian midfielder Finidi George. New signing Benjamin Zarandona was a reveleation last
season- he has shown to be a gifted midfielder on the brink of stardom. Those 3 will
create one of the world's most potent and youngest midfields. To complement the attack,
Spanish international star Alfonso may be the go-to man for goals. Oli Alvarez hopes to
repeat success this season as his striker partner. Alfonso's younger brother Ivan led
Spain to this year's U-18 European Championship, and he figures to be a trump card.
The Cobra Ilie
Valencia is another emerging giant on the World scene.
It looks like in 98-99 they have real shots at everything. The line-up is truly packed
with stars. The defense is solid with Italian veteran Carboni, Yugoslavian international
Djukic, Angloma, voted by ESM as the best right back in Europe in 97-98 when he played for
Inter Milan. It is strenghthened by the arrivals of French international Alain Roche and
Sweedish international Bkorklund. The midfield showcases talent with Spanish players
Farinos and Mendieta. Gabi Popescu is the new Rumanian star, and he is joined by Sweede
Stefan Schwarz of Fiorentina. The attack is veritably frightening. The great star is
Adrian Ilie, "The Cobra", who first dazzled fans at Valencia coming on last
winter. In France 98, he stunned the World with his great skill, and was a world
revelation. Argentina's Claudio Lopez joins him on the attack, along with Italian signing
Lucarelli, one of the Serie A's revelations from last season.
Deportivo La Coru˝a
Deportivo is looking to regain the form it had in the
glory days of Bebeto and Mauro Silva. The stars are diverse and from all over the planet.
Brasilians Falvio Conceišao, Mauro Silva, and Djalminha- best player of the 97 Brazilian
championship, for an outstanding midfield that plays to the rythm of the samba. Added to
it is the brilliant Moroccan Hadji, who showed his class during the World Cup. Bassir,
another Moroccan, is set to help the potent attack. The goalscoring burden is now placed
at the feet of Portugese international striker Pauleta. New acquisition Turu Flores,
Argentine international. looks to also be an important piece of the puzzle. Another
Argentine, Gabriel Schurrer, joins to help bolster the defense led by outstanding sweeper
Nourredine Naybet of Morocco. Jacques Song'o hopes to keep up his greatness in the
Last season, the Basque team was a great surprise,
keeping 3rd place through the first half of the season. For goalscorers, Bernard Krauss
looks to the Balkans- Darko Kovacevic of Yugoslavia and Igor Cvitanovic of Croatia. The
new attraction will be the skilled Portugese international forward Sa Pinto. He was last
year's signing, but was suspended up until now. The defense is solid and efficient, and is
led by Spanish international left back Agustin Aranzabal.
Celta de Vigo
Celta battled their way into Europe last season, and
they may be able to do it again. It will be very difficult to repeat last season, however,
as they must also concentrate on the UEFA Cup. The team is solid and consistent, with
Frenchman Dutruel in goal; Argentine Caceres, Dan Egen of Norway, Djorovic, and promising
young Spaniard Michel Salgado on defense. The midfield star is Mazinho, Brazilian world
champion in 94, combining with Russian Valerie Karpin and Portugal international Bruna
Caires. As a forward, there is Haim Revivo, the outstanding Israeli, and Jorge Cadete,
another Portugese international.
Espanyol sports an underacheiving yet talented team.
This season, they had a tough draw with Valencia in the Intertoto, so they hope that they
have a chance in the league. It will be difficult for the Barcelona team, and the health
of the stars will be essential. Spanish goalkeeper Toni was outstanding last season, and
emerged as a leader. He was the best in the leageu last season. A weak spot may be the
defense. The midfield however is strong and star-studded. New siging Villa of Mexico may
be a revelation. Constantin Galca comes off of a great WC and looks to be the
recoverer for the Espanyol midfield. Newcomers include Frenchman Javary from Montepellier,
who joins the 2nd season Belgian Lemoine. The forward are the best part of the team. The
star is Argentine Juan Esnaider, who was scoring at an excellent rate last season before
suffering a serious knee injury. He teams up with Paraguay Miguel Benitez, who is coming
off of a fine WC performance. Florin Radiciou of Romania hopes to recover his goalscoring
form, and Quique Martin returnas as last season's revelation.
Zaragoza has it very tough this season, but they cannot
be discounted as contenders. Juanmi must retain his great form in goal, and Belsue is the
key to the defense. The midfield features "El Toro" Acu˝a of
Paraguay, Radimov of Russia, and Spaniards Aragon and Kily Gonzalez. The forwards are
strong. A new star is joining them- Yugoslavian forward Savo Milosevic. He is the great
hope of the team. Other standouts are Pier Luigi Cherubino, Argentine Gustavo Lopez, and
Marc Wooter of Holland.
In 1997-1998 they were the Cinderella team, making it to the Cup
final and despite losing, they clinched a spot in the European Cup Winners Cup. It is the
first time in the club's history that they are in Europe. The 98-99 season looks much
bleaker now that their biggest stars have gone to bigger teams- Ezquerro, Amato,
Ivan Campo and Mena. However there is still talent- Engonga, Valeron, Stankovic, and
Argentine international keeper Carlos Roa. Another Argentine, "Chupa" Lopez,
looks to be an important part of the plans.
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