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Winner takes all in Spain, Cyprus and Luxembourg

Published: Friday 16 May 2014, 13.03CET
The Liga decider between FC Barcelona and Club Atlético de Madrid is followed by similar 'finals' in Cyprus and Luxembourg this weekend while Juventus chase a unique century.
Winner takes all in Spain, Cyprus and Luxembourg
Thibaut Courtois (Club Atlético de Madrid) & Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona) ©AFP/Getty Images features

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Published: Friday 16 May 2014, 13.03CET

Winner takes all in Spain, Cyprus and Luxembourg

The Liga decider between FC Barcelona and Club Atlético de Madrid is followed by similar 'finals' in Cyprus and Luxembourg this weekend while Juventus chase a unique century.

Spain: FC Barcelona v Club Atlético de Madrid (Saturday 18.00)
With the 2013/14 Liga title on the line this weekend, Barça midfielder Xavi Hernández said he expects a "spectacular final" against leaders Atlético. Holding a three-point lead over the Blaugrana entering the last day of the season, the Rojiblancos know a draw or a win will see them crowned champions for the first time since 1996. Barcelona and Xavi, however, are looking to snatch the title themselves by gaining the all-important victory having almost blown their chances by drawing at Elche CF last weekend, only for Atlético to drop points against Málaga CF.

"We gave up the ghost after our draw but football has given us another shot at the title," said Xavi, whose colleague Lionel Messi agreed a new deal on Friday. "The Camp Nou needs to be like a pressure cooker and we mustn't fail." Atlético midfielder Gabi, meanwhile, insists his side will "stand up to the challenge", adding: "We know it's not going to be easy but we have to be ready to die out there on the field."  

France: FC Sochaux-Montbéliard v Évian Thonon Gaillard FC (Saturday 21.00)
Sochaux have spent a record 66 seasons in the French top flight and are eager to extend their stay after a seven-game unbeaten run resurrected their campaign. A last-day win would rescue Hervé Renard's third-from-bottom team – and send Évian down in their place together with AC Ajaccio and Valenciennes FC. "We were sat eight points adrift of safety six weeks ago," said the charismatic coach. "Sure, there was a bit of disbelief in me, but the squad kept their drive and faith in their destiny."

On taking charge in October with Sochaux in the doldrums, Renard had wished for "a final against Évian on the last day of the season", and his dream has come true. However, Évian coach Pascal Dupraz is keen to ensure this particular fairy tale has an unhappy ending for Sochaux. "Don't forget we're one point above them," he said. "You don't know the history of our club – I do. I know what we're made of. I know we'll do it."

Cyprus: AEL Limassol FC v APOEL FC (Saturday 17.00)
Leaders AEL take on second-ranked APOEL in a winner-takes-all season closer. The last time the championship race went down to the wire on the final day was the 2005/06 season when Apollon Limassol FC's 3-1 defeat of Anorthosis Famagusta FC ensured they finished one point clear of runners-up AC Omonia, and this term's winning margin could be slenderer still.

A victory for title holders APOEL would move them level on points with AEL, but with a superior head-to-head record and goal difference. "We have two finals left [the other being the Cypriot Cup final against Ermis Aradippou FC on 21 May]," noted APOEL boss Giorgos Donis. "We will get to work this week in confident mood and with total focus. We are heading to Limassol to lift the trophy." His opposite number Ivaylo Petev added: "We have to do whatever we can to win this 'final'."

Greece: PAOK FC v Panathinaikos FC (Saturday 19.30)
PAOK, having lost all hope of clinching Greece's second UEFA Champions League qualifying spot when they lost 1-0 to Asteras Tripolis FC on Wednesday, will seek to at least end the play-offs with some prestige restored against the side that pipped them to the top European club competition and also beat them 4-1 in the Greek Cup final last month. "We are disappointed and tired after many back-to-back matches," PAOK defender Giannis Skondras said. "But we want to sign off by winning against Panathinaikos and get the best possible spot in the UEFA Europa League."

Panathinaikos, however, are already thinking about the future, according to coach Giannis Anastasiou: "Had anyone said at the beginning of the season that we would win the Greek Cup and clinch first place in the play-offs, they would have been thought crazy. But we made it and now the bar has been set higher. We are looking forward to next season, one that will be more demanding."

Italy: Juventus v Cagliari Calcio (Sunday 15.00)
"We have already made history, now we need to ice the cake," said Juventus midfielder Andrea Pirlo after last week's 1-0 victory at second-placed AS Roma took the champions to a Serie A record points tally of 99, overtaking FC Internazionale Milano's previous best. A draw on Sunday would make them the first to reach a century in Italy's top flight.

A win, meanwhile, would confirm them as the first team to complete a 20-club Serie A campaign with a 100% home record – Torino FC in 1948/49 and AC Milan eight years ago having each been held to one draw. Whatever the result, Juve will officially celebrate their 30th Scudetto after the game when they will receive the trophy and take an open-top bus tour of Turin.

Luxembourg: F91 Dudelange v CS Fola Esch (Sunday 16.00)
Fola Esch go into the final day as leaders and can secure the title with a draw at second-place Dudelange. The situation was different a week ago, with Dudelange two points clear of Fola at the top – but the former's surprise 4-3 loss to relegation candidates FC Jeunesse Canach, coupled with Fola's 4-1 derby win against AS Jeunesse Esch, has turned the tables. Now it is the hosts who require a result if they are to recover the crown from Fola one year after losing it.

Dudelange will look to Julian Jahier for help, with the forward bagging five goals in his last four matches. Yet Fola also have an in-form striker in last year's top scorer Stefano Bensi, as his four goals in the past two games proves. Fola coach Jeff Strasser is buoyant ahead of the showdown: "In football, it's wonderful when your fate is in your own hands. My players have the mentality and the desire of champions."

All times CET

Last updated: 16/05/14 14.44CET