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The tale of two talismans


Pellegrini in dark over future

Real Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini says he has not yet heard whether he will remain at the club next season.

La Liga round-up

Pellegrini has come under pressure after the surprise Copa del Rey and Champions League exits to Alcorcon and Lyon respectively, while Barcelona will retain the league title on Sunday if they beat Real Valladolid at Camp Nou.

Yet while Jose Mourinho heads a lengthy list of names linked with the position, Pellegrini believes he has every chance of keeping his job for another year.

Asked about his future following the 5-1 win over Atheltic Bilbao, he said: "I don't know. You'll need to ask the board.

"I have a year left on my contract and nobody has spoken to me about not continuing next year. I'm very happy to have had such a good season and I don't see any reason not to continue."

It is felt that Pellegrini would stand a much greater chance of keeping his job if his team can leapfrog Barca on Sunday and, although the odds are not in Madrid's favour, he is holding out hope.

"We have one more match and, although we had a lot of hope riding on the game in Seville, Valladolid have a lot at stake when they visit Barcelona next week," he said. "We will keep up the pressure until the end.

"We knew that Barcelona's match against Sevilla would be more complicated than next week's against Valladolid, but you never know what may happen. We need to maintain this spirit and fight until the very end. Hope is the last thing we can lose."

Defender Sergio Ramos, meanwhile, says Madrid can only focus on taking three points from Malaga as they go into their final game.

"We can only think about continuing to fight," Ramos said. "The first thing to think about is picking up the three points against Malaga, an encounter you can't take as won because they're a team that are fighting for a lot. Then we have hope that Valladolid can cause a surprise as they are also playing to avoid relegation at Camp Nou.

"We want to get to 98 points, and if Barca are proclaimed champions with 99 then we need to congratulate them. Both teams have had a great season. We both deserve to win the league but there is only one trophy."

Team-mate Alvaro Arbeloa said he hoped that Valladolid coach Javier Clemente may be able to help Madrid out by playing an ultra-defensive strategy.

"There's a slight chance left and we hope that Mr Clemente gives us a hand by parking one or two buses," he said. "We know that Barca have the upper hand but we have to focus on our game against Malaga, which is going to be very difficult because they are playing for everything."

Midfielder Esteban Granero added: "Next week Valladolid and Malaga have a lot at stake and they are vital matches for both teams. Neither Barcelona nor us will have it easy. La Liga is not over."


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