Real Madrid, Barca race for records
With the league title decided, Spanish champion Real Madrid and rival Barcelona still have some club and individual records to bolster before the end of the season, as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi continue their unprecedented scoring duel.
Madrid clinched its record 32nd domestic crown on Wednesday with two rounds to spare, and a victory at Granada on Saturday would put a league record 100 points in a season in sight. Madrid, which can reach that mark by winning its final matches, has already established a new mark with 115 goals scored.
Ronaldo's 44 league goals is two short of Messi's record total, which he can add to in Saturday's Barcelona derby against Espanyol in coach Pep Guardiola's final game at the Camp Nou.
While Madrid was celebrating the league, Barcelona was feting Messi's hat trick in Wednesday's 4-1 win over Malaga.
The Argentina forward broke a 39-year European club record with his 68th goal in a single season, surpassing the 67 Gerd Mueller scored for Bayern Munich in 1972-73.
Madrid coach Jose Mourinho is now the first coach to win four different European league championships, his seventh title coming after successes at FC Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan.
He saluted his players' performance in breaking the record number of goals in the league that was set by Madrid in 1989-90, and called on fans at Santiago Bernabeu stadium to honor his team in its last game of the season.
''A 109-goal record is one of those details you focus on more when you win a title that belongs to all,'' Mourinho said. ''I hope against Mallorca the people can give more (support) to the players, who deserve more emotion and passion (from the fans) than they have already received.''
Madrid strikers Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain have combined for 42 league goals, combining for a record 86 among three players in a single team when added to Ronaldo's tally.
Xavi Hernandez and Gerard Pique were back in training for Barcelona on Thursday as the club prepares for Guardiola's final home game.
''Pep's decision to leave has been hard on everyone, but you have to respect it,'' forward Pedro Rodriguez said.
With the title wrapped, the relegation race appears to have boiled down to two teams.
Zaragoza moved to within three points of Rayo Vallecano as the pair duel to avoid the final relegation spot, with Sporting Gijon mathematically alive but almost certain to be demoted alongside Racing Santander.
Zaragoza has the easier schedule as it welcomes last-place Santander while Rayo is looking to end a two-game losing streak at Sevilla. Sporting faces Real Betis.
The relegation fight has taken its toll on Zaragoza's players, with striker Carlos Aranda and midfielder Franco Zuculini both sidelined.
''We know we'll suffer with each game, but we'll have to give it our all,'' Zaragoza coach Manolo Jimenez said.
Valencia can secure third place and an automatic Champions League spot with a win over Villarreal, which is only four points above the drop zone.
Malaga's hold on fourth place and the last Champions League qualifying spot is tenuous. leading Levante by only three points before playing Atletico Madrid. Levante is at Mallorca.
Also, Athletic Bilbao prepares for next Thursday's Europa League final against Atletico with a match against Getafe, and Osasuna plays Real Sociedad.