Brief news from La Liga ahead of
this weekend's matches:
Outgoing Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola has said Saturday's
city derby against Espanyol at the Nou Camp is more important
than any farewell celebrations that may be planned in his
"I don't like farewells, but I have been a person in the
public eye," he said on Friday ahead of his final home game. "I
hope the people react as they always do, in a natural way.
"I have been a coach here for four years and it's normal
that there is a certain amount of attention on me as a person,
but it should be secondary. The people are coming to watch a
Newly-crowned champions Real Madrid will give some of
their squad players a run out when they visit
relegation-threatened Granada, Jose Mourinho's assistant coach
Aitor Karanka said on Friday.
He also dismissed media reports that Argentina striker
Gonzalo Higuain, mainly used as a substitute in the season run-in, was unsettled and seeking an exit from the club.
"He doesn't have to convince anyone," Karanka said. "He
knows first hand that he is an important player for us. We want
him to stay and are counting on him for next year."
Third-placed Valencia can secure the last automatic
Champions League qualification slot if they can beat regional
The visitors, 16th, are one of five teams who could be
relegated along with basement side Racing Santander.
Qatar-owned Malaga, fourth, are assured of European
football next season for the second time in their history, but
have the chance for a first shot at the Champions League as they
visit direct rivals Atletico Madrid.
Atletico are five points behind them in sixth place and have
one eye on next Wednesday's Europa League final against Athletic
Bilbao in Bucharest.
Sevilla host struggling Rayo Vallecano, 17th, who are
three points ahead of the relegation places and 18th-placed Real
"We need to stay up because the viability of the club
depends on it," Rayo coach Jose Ramon Sandoval said of the
Madrid-based club who are in administration.
Second-from-bottom Sporting Gijon's superior head-to-head
record over Rayo is all that is keeping them from relegation.
They lie six points from safety ahead of the visit of Real
"Sporting are a magical club, they are a top-flight team and
I hope they return there soon," Croatian striker Mate Bilic said
after their 3-2 midweek defeat to Villarreal left them hanging
by a thread.
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