Ronaldo chases landmark goal in Spanish finale
Cristiano Ronaldo is chasing a record-breaking goal, Barcelona will play its last match before the Champions League final and one of six teams will be relegated to the second division when the Spanish season comes to a close this weekend.
Ronaldo needs only to score against last-place Almeria at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday to set a new mark of 39 goals in a season. The Portugal forward has scored nine times in his last three games to match the 38-goal mark set by Athletic Bilbao’s Telmo Zarra and Madrid’s Hugo Sanchez, the league scoring leaders from the 1950-51 and 1989-90 seasons.
Madrid will finish runner-up to Barcelona for the third straight season but could be as close as one point behind if the Catalan club loses at Malaga, which presents the final warmup before its May 28 Champions League final against Manchester United.
Brazilian fullback Adriano has been cleared to play after returning from a leg injury, while defender Gabriel Milito also trained on Thursday. Carles Puyol is unlikely to play at La Rosaleda as coach Pep Guardiola focuses on the match at Wembley at the end of the month.
Barcelona can add to an already impressive list of season records with a 14th victory from 18 away games. It has already broken a 50-year league record with 16 consecutive away wins and smashed a club record by going 31 rounds without losing.
Meanwhile, either Zaragoza, Getafe, Osasuna, Deportivo La Coruna, Mallorca or Real Sociedad will join Hercules and Almeria in the second division next season.
The six teams are separated by two points, with Getafe at Sociedad in the only match between the teams involved.
Getafe may be without striker Adrian Colunga at the Anoeta Stadium, where Sociedad midfielder Markel Bergara can play after having a ban overturned.
"We are where we should be and he who can’t deal with that won’t help," said Getafe coach Michel, whose club was recently bought by a Dubai business group. "I’m optimistic because to be pessimistic is to welcome failure. No disrespect to Real Sociedad, but I think we are going to win and stay in the first division."
Getafe hasn’t won away since December.
Zaragoza will have to beat a Valencia-based team for the first time in 18 years at Levante to give itself a chance of staying up as it is currently sits in the relegation zone – two points behind Sociedad, Mallorca and Osasuna, while Getafe and Deportivo are one point better than Zaragoza.
Deportivo can ensure safety by beating Valencia at its El Riazor Stadium. A draw will be enough providing Zaragoza doesn’t win.
Zaragoza stays up if it finishes level on points with either Deportivo or Getafe because of its superior head-to-head record against those teams.
Osasuna plays Villarreal, which will finish fourth behind Valencia. Mallorca plays Atletico Madrid, which has already clinched a Europa League place alongside Athletic Bilbao and Sevilla.
Espanyol plays Sevilla in midfielder Ivan de la Pena’s final match after the former Barcelona, Lazio and Marseille player announced his retirement after 15-plus seasons on Thursday.
"My mind tells me to keep going but my body can’t take anymore," said De la Pena, who saw a career filled with expectations often setback by injuries as he featured just once this season.
Other 38th-round games include Racing Santander against Bilbao and Sporting Gijon against Hercules.