Van Gaal on the brink

Last updated : 27 January 2003 By Martyn Elliott

Barcelona coach Louis van Gaal is very unlikely to still be in charge of the Catalan club by the time they travel to St James Park, after his side suffered yet another Primera Liga defeat.

They suffered a 2-0 defeat at Celta Vigo, with a Jesuli strike and a Silvinho wonder goal doing the damage, and have now slipped to 12th in the table, just three points above the relegation zone.

Barca’s board meet later in the week and are subsequently expected to announce van Gaal’s sacking.

Christian Vieri overshadowed Gabriel Batisuta’s Inter debut with a hat-trick in their 3-0 home victory over Empoli, as the Nerazzuri drew level on points with AC Milan at the top of Serie A.

Bayer Leverkusen’s poor Bundesliga form continued with a 3-0 home defeat at the hands of the German league’s bottom club Energie Cottbus.

Marco Gebhardt, Marko Topic and Andrei Juskowiak scored for the visitors as Bayer slipped to 14th place in the table, only three points above the drop zone.

Leverkusen did have some good news though with German international defender Jens Nowotny making his comeback after nine months on the sidelines with a cruciate ligament problem.