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50-50: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

Champions League 11 hours ago
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By ESPN Staff
May 15, 2006

Spanish clubs aim to complete unfinished business

MADRID, May 15 (Reuters) - Barcelona have already pocketed the title but there is still unfinished business to be concluded in the Spanish league on Tuesday.

On the eve of Barca's Champions League showdown with Arsenal, four of the top five teams battle it out to decide the minor places in the title race and divide up the remaining European spoils.

Second-placed Real Madrid, only one point ahead of Valencia, need to win their away match with UEFA Cup winners Sevilla to ensure they claim the runners-up spot and the all-important berth in next season's Champions League group stage.

Sevilla have everything to play for as a victory could help them leapfrog Osasuna to finish fourth and snatch a place in the third qualifying round of the money-spinning European competition.

Osasuna, who have only once before finished in the top four, will be defending their position when they host third-placed Valencia in what is guaranteed to be one of the most intense encounters of the season.

Real Madrid head into their game at the Sanchez Pizjuan trying to salvage some pride from yet another disappointing season, their third in a row without winning a major trophy.

'It has been a very complicated year, possibly the worst one of the last three,' says club captain Raul.

'There have been changes in the presidency, the sporting directors and the coaching staff this season and now there is going to be a presidential election.

'Things have been rushed and poorly planned in the last three seasons ? I don't know what will happen in the future, but what I want to do is to win on Tuesday and finish second place.'

Real will be without leading striker Ronaldo for the final game of the season. The Brazilian is looking to recover from a thigh injury that has kept him out of action since early April and concentrate on regaining his fitness before the World Cup.

It will be a special night for Zinedine Zidane, who plays his last Real Madrid game before his retirement after the World Cup but Sevilla hope to spoil the Frenchman's farewell with a victory.

'Tuesday is going to be a momentous game,' says Sevilla coach Juande Ramos, whose fans are still celebrating their crushing 4-0 victory over Middlesbrough in last week's UEFA Cup final.

'We are hoping to put the icing on the cake of a great season by qualifying for the Champions League. We are in great physical and mental shape and that's very important.'

Osasuna, who have the edge over Valencia in head-to-head matches, will also be out to crown a brilliant season with a first ever qualification for Europe's elite club competition.

Although Tuesday's games will decide the Champions League places, the final league standings will not be known until Friday when Barcelona travel to Athletic Bilbao in the last game of the season.