With La Liga decided, all eyes on Guardiola's last home game

May 4, 2012 21:46 IST

#Barcelona   #football   #KickingAround   #La Liga   #Pep Guardiola  

Outgoing Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola has said Saturday's city derby against Espanyol at the Nou Camp is more important than any farewell celebrations that may be planned in his honour.

"I don't like farewells, but I have been a person in the public eye," he said on Friday ahead of his final home game. "I hope the people react as they always do, in a natural way.

"I have been a coach here for four years and it's normal that there is a certain amount of attention on me as a person, but it should be secondary. The people are coming to watch a football match."

Guardiola will lead his team out for the last time at the Nou Camp. AP

Meanwhile, newly-crowned champions Real Madrid will give some of their squad players a run out when they visit relegation-threatened Granada, Jose Mourinho's assistant coach Aitor Karanka said on Friday.

He also dismissed media reports that Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain, mainly used as a substitute in the season run in, was unsettled and seeking an exit from the club.

"He doesn't have to convince anyone," Karanka said. "He knows first hand that he is an important player for us. We want him to stay and are counting on him for next year."

Third-placed Valencia can secure the last automatic Champions League qualification slot if they can beat regional rivals Villarreal.

The visitors, 16th, are one of five teams who could be relegated along with basement side Racing Santander.

Qatar-owned Malaga, fourth, are assured of European football next season for the second time in their history, but have the chance for a first shot at the Champions League as they visit direct rivals Atletico Madrid.

Atletico are five points behind them in sixth place and have one eye on next Wednesday's Europa League final against Athletic Bilbao in Bucharest.

Also, Sevilla host struggling Rayo Vallecano, 17th, who are three points ahead of the relegation places and 18th-placed Real Zaragoza.

"We need to stay up because the viability of the club depends on it," Rayo coach Jose Ramon Sandoval said of the Madrid-based club who are in administration.

Second-from-bottom Sporting Gijon's superior head-to-head record over Rayo is all that is keeping them from relegation. They lie six points from safety ahead of the visit of Real Betis.

"Sporting are a magical club, they are a top-flight team and I hope they return there soon," Croatian striker Mate Bilic said after their 3-2 midweek defeat to Villarreal left them hanging by a thread.

Reuters