Figo in the spotlight as Real seek repeat win


BARCELONA, Reuters

Injury-hit Real Madrid will look to world record signing Luis Figo to show the old order is still in place in Spain as they begin their league campaign with a repeat of the Champions League final against Valencia.

Injuries and tactical decisions could mean Real run out at the Bernabeu on Saturday (kickoff 1900 GMT) without all three goalscorers from their 3-0 win in the Stade de France in May.

Fernando Morientes is definitely out while Raul is struggling with a thigh injury and Steve McManaman is out of favor and will be glad just to get a place on the bench.

But after spending more than $100 million on strengthening their team — including the $56 million investment in Figo from Barcelona — Real are confident they have all the necessary firepower to get their season off to a rousing start.

“We have a brilliant squad,” said coach Vicente del Bosque. “And we have a very clear idea of how we’re going to play.

“Our style of play will have to change without Morientes and we still don’t know if Raul will be fit but there are other players who can lead the attack.”

That role could fall to Figo, who may play alongside Savio in a 4-4-2 formation, with Guti, Claude Makelele, Albert Celades and Pedro Munitis making up the new-look midfield.

Valencia will also have a markedly different line-up from the game in Paris, following the departures of Francisco Farinos and Claudio Lopez to Italy and Gerard to Barcelona.

Didier Deschamps is set to join Gaizka Mendieta at the heart of the midfield, with another Euro 2000 star Zlatko Zahovic of Slovenia pairing up with Diego Alonso in attack.