Barca eye Euro glory as Ronaldo targets goal award
High-flying Barcelona, with a third La Liga title already wrapped up, will rest key stars ahead of the Champions League final when they welcome Deportivo La Coruna to Camp Nou on Sunday.
Madrid: High-flying Barcelona, with a third La Liga title already wrapped up, will rest key stars ahead of the Champions League final when they welcome Deportivo La Coruna to Camp Nou on Sunday.
Barcelona became the first team since 1993 to win three successive Spanish titles when they drew 1-1 at Levante on Wednesday.
They now have the luxury of two `dead` league games to prepare for the European showpiece against Manchester United at Wembley on May 28.
"Now is the time to party and that`s what winning a title deserves and we have time to get ready for the final in London," said Guardiola.
"These players are unique and an enormously strong bunch and you have to remember the schedule they have had to put up with over the last two and half years. I hope people have enjoyed watching us play - that would really be the best reward."
Depor will provide the traditional guard of honour at Camp Nou on Sunday, but will hope to upset the celebrating home fans with a win to aid their survival bid.
La Coruna, Champions League semi-finalists in 2004, are three points above the relegation zone and fighting to extend their 20-year stay in the top flight.
Real Madrid tried to forget about Barcelona`s latest title win by parading their Kings Cup trophy and have nothing to play for but pride when they travel to Villarreal.
Real have had second place wrapped up for months but Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo insists the team want to finish the campaign with two more victories.
"The coach has asked us to finish the league by winning our games and we will try to do that," said Ronaldo.
Ronaldo has scored an incredible seven goals in his last two league outings to take his season`s tally to 36 and is on course to win the Pichichi crown for the league`s top-scorer.
Ronaldo lies five goals ahead of Barcelona`s Lionel Messi and could break the all-time record of 38 set by Athletico Bilbao`s Telmo Zarra in 1951 and matched by Real`s iconic Mexican striker Hugo Sanchez in 1990.
Villarreal have fourth place secure and trail third-placed Valencia by five points with six points to play for.
Valencia can secure third place with a draw at home to derby rivals Levante due to their superior head to head record over Villarreal.
The battle for Europa League places is set to go down to the wire with four teams fighting for two places.
At present Athletic Bilbao are in pole position in fifth place but have Sevilla and Atletico Madrid just two points behind.
Bilbao have home advantage against Malaga but Manuel Pellegrini`s outfit have won five consecutive league games.
Europa League holders Atletico desperately need European football to try and hold on to star Argentine striker Sergio "Kun" Aguero and host already-relegated Hercules.
Sevilla were stunned by a 3-2 defeat to Osasuna on Wednesday, having led 2-0, and look to respond at home to Real Sociedad as they cling onto sixth.
Espanyol are the outsiders lying three points back from Sevilla and travel to a Real Zaragoza side fighting for their lives.
Zaragoza languish third from bottom but just one point from safety in a tight relegation battle.
With Almeria and Hercules already relegated, there is just one drop spot left and eight teams are fighting not to be in it.
Getafe, a best ever sixth last season, are one point above the bottom three and host fellow strugglers Osasuna, five points clear of the relegation zone, at the Coliseum.
Sporting Gijon, who famously ended Madrid boss Jose Mourinho`s nine-year unbeaten home league record, are four points above the bottom three and host Racing Santander knowing a win would put them safe.
Sunday (all 1900 GMT)
Almeria v Real Mallorca, Villarreal v Real Madrid, Getafe v Osasuna, Sevilla v Real Sociedad, Real Zaragoza v Espanyol, Valencia v Levante, Barcelona v Deportivo La Coruna, Athletic Bilbao v Malaga, Sporting Gijon v Racing Santander, Atletico Madrid v Hercules