Raul dropped from national team for first time in decade

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The Independent Football

Raul scored twice for Real Madrid in midweek but his joy was soured yesterday when the Spain captain was dropped from the national team for the first time in a decade. The 29-year-old, who has 102 caps, was omitted from the squad for next week's Euro 2008 qualifier away to Sweden.

"I have chosen the players who I think are in the best form at this moment in time," Luis Aragones, the Spain coach, said. Aragones said he had not told Raul of his decision before telling the press.

Raul responded diplomatically, but tomorrow he may take his disappointment out on Atletico Madrid, the club who lost him to Real when they disbanded their youth team in the early 1990s.

Barcelona and Valencia, Real's co-leaders, are respectively at Athletic Bilbao tonight, and home to Gimnastic tomorrow.

Internazionale, the Serie A leaders, will seek to put their midweek humiliation against Bayern Munich, who won their Champions' League tie 2-0 in Milan, behind them tomorrow. They visit a Cagliari side still searching for their first win of the season.

The France coach, Raymond Domenech, yesterday signed a contract extension which will take him up to the 2010 World Cup. Domenech, 54, was appointed after France's quarter-final elimination from Euro 2004 and took Les Bleus to the World Cup final despite rumoured disagreements with senior members of the squad.

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