Saturday, December 9, 2023

Departure day at Barca as Rijkaard signs off in style (SN)

SoccerNews in La Liga 18 May 2008


It was a day of farewells for Barcelona on Saturday as coach Frank Rijkaard said an emotional goodbye after five years and his team gave him the perfect send-off with a 5-3 win at relegated Real Murcia.

Rijkaard won two league titles and the 2006 Champions League crown to etch his name in Barca's history books but he will now make way for reserve team coach Pep Guardiola after two seasons without silverware.

Rijkaard's final match was a festival of goals as 19-year-old Mexican striker Giovani dos Santos scored a hat-trick with Samuel Eto'o and Thierry Henry also on target.

The Dutch coach allowed himself a huge smile – something he has not been able to do much this season – as Giovani scored two great goals to complete his hat-trick.

Saturday's game could be both Eto'o's and Henry's final match in a Barca shirt with their futures far from clear but both signed off by getting on the scoresheet.

Brazilian Ronaldinho and Portuguese playmaker Deco are set to follow Rijkaard out of the Camp Nou exit door but took no part against Murcia.

Ronaldinho was a major factor behind Barca's success under Rijkaard with his silky skills and incredible goals – notably a brilliant solo effort against Real Madrid which prompted a standing ovation from the Real fans – but his love of partying now seems to outweigh his love of football.

Incoming coach Guardiola, a former Barca captain, will need to give the team a facelift but with Giovani, Lionel Messi and Bojan Krkic, who turned down going to Euro 2008 with Spain due to fatigue, providing young blood there is already a framework.

On Sunday, the respective battles for survival and UEFA Cup are intertwined in three intriguing matches.

Real Mallorca are a point behind Racing Santander in the UEFA Cup race but on Sunday the islanders face a Real Zaragoza team that need to win and hope to stay in the top-flight.

Osasuna are a point above Zaragoza heading into their away match at Racing who are desperate to retain the final European place.

Recreativo Huelva and Valladolid are the two other teams in relegation danger and thay face one another on Sunday.

Champions Real Madrid are set to be presented with the championship trophy but confusion reigns as to whether their opponents Levante will show up for the game as their players plan to strike due to unpaid wages and bonuses.


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