Baptista steps out of sidelines

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Julio Baptista was given the chance to take on a starring role at Real in Wednesday’s game against Partizan Belgrade.

7 December 2007

MADRID - In Wednesday night's exhibition game against Serbia's Partizan Belgrade, Real Madrid's Julio Baptista was given his second consecutive start in Bernd Schuster's line-up, a position the in-form Brazilian says he is eager to keep, especially after having been named the game's best player in the side's 2-0 win.

In Real's last Liga game against Racing de Santander, the defensive midfielder-turned forward took advantage of Guti's absence to nudge his way into Schuster's starting 11. Baptista again triumphed as starter Wednesday night in the exhibition Santiago Bernabéu trophy game, where he scored the side's first goal.

Saying that "becoming a fixed starter" is his goal, Baptista reflected on two combined seasons of patchy play while fielding a new position for the current Liga leaders: "The truth is that it's hard for any player to have been such a long time without playing. But, that means you have to work hard, and when the chance is offered, you have to take advantage of it," the Brazilian said yesterday in a press conference.

Baptista joined Real in 2005 from Sevilla, but after playing sporadically, out of position, Real Madrid loaned him to Arsenal, before he returned to the Spanish capital after the London team choose not to exercise the buy option.

In other European competition Wednesday, Real's cross-town rival Atlético de Madrid beat FC Copenhagen 2-0 in the UEFA Cup, while Villarreal defeated Sweden's Elfsborg Boras by the same score. Both Spanish teams have secured spots in the tournament's knock-out phase.

[Copyright EL PAÍS, SL./ KELLY RAMUNDO 2007]

Subject: Spanish news

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