Barca ready for Man Utd after Malaga win

Champions Barcelona ended their stellar league campaign with a 3-1 win at Malaga on Saturday in a timely warm-up for next week's Champions League final against Manchester United.

Updated: May 22, 2011 13:59 IST
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Barcelona: Champions Barcelona ended their stellar league campaign with a 3-1 win at Malaga on Saturday in a timely warm-up for next week's Champions League final against Manchester United.

With the league already wrapped up, Barcelona have their eyes firmly on the double and the Wembley final against Manchester United, and coach Pep Guardiola rested his array of Spanish World Cup stars and Ballon D'Or winner Lionel Messi.

Malaga took a 31st-minute lead but Barcelona's collection of youngsters and fringe players came back with a 43rd minute Bojan Krkic penalty equalising before Dutchman Ibrahim Afellay (75) and 20-year-old Marc Bartra (84) scored their first league goals for the club.

The win brought the curtain down on a fine season that has yielded their third successive league title and there is still the Champions League final to come.

Guardiola blooded homegrown talents in a second-string side completed by French international Eric Abidal and Brazilians Maxwell and Adriano who returned following injury lay-offs.

Malaga had won five out of their last six league outings and Uruguayan midfielder Seba Fernandez shot them into the lead.

Barcelona's crop of youngsters quickly responded with Bojan winning and then converting a penalty two minutes before the interval.

Bojan, 20, has made over a century of league appearances for Barcelona but still can't find a way into the starting line-up most weeks.

Barcelona grew in confidence in the second half and Afellay drilled home on 75 minutes for his first ever Barca league goal and Bartra followed suit with his first league goal thumping in a bullet header six minutes from time.

Barcelona finish the season with 96 points, three less than last season, having won 30 out of their 38 games.

Runners-up Real Madrid host already-relegated Almeria later on Saturday with Cristiano Ronaldo looking to beat the all-time La Liga goals record of 38.

Ronaldo scored his 38th league goal last weekend to equal the benchmark, set by Athletic Bilbao's Telmo Zarra in 1951 and equalled by Real Madrid's Mexican legend Hugo Sanchez in 1990, and now has the chance to better the mark at the Santiago Bernabeu.

At the wrong end of the table six teams battle for survival on the final day of the season.

Hercules and Almeria are already relegated and as it stands, Real Zaragoza will join them, lying third from bottom and needing to win at promoted Levante on Saturday to beat the drop.

Getafe are just one point above Zaragoza and travel to Real Sociedad on Saturday in a relegation nail-biter.

Promoted Sociedad need a point to avoid a swift return to the second division.

Osasuna and Real Mallorca, who are both two points above the relegation zone, are in danger along with fallen giants Deportivo La Coruna with the 2000 league champions one point above the bottom three.

Elsewhere Sevilla, Athletic Bilbao and Atletico Madrid jostle for the right to avoid a place in the Europa League qualifying rounds.

The trio are locked on 55 points and have all qualified for the Europa League as one extra place is assigned to the league due to Barcelona and Madrid contesting the Kings Cup final.

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