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Saturday Soccer Wrapup


Barcelona are one step from the title after an ill-tempered 3-2 win at Sevilla. Sevilla had Konko sent off for a second yellow card; Sevilla had five players go into the referee's book in all, while Barcelona had six.

Real Madrid kept pace with a 5-1 win over Athletic Bilbao. Amorbieta was sent off after 20 minutes for the Basques but it was 1-1 after 70 minutes—and that's when the floodgates opened.

Barcelona host Valladolid next week while Real Madrid are in Malaga. Barcelona lead Real by one point and hold the tiebreaker. If Real are to win their 32nd championship, they must win and hope Barcelona do not.

Sevilla similarly leads Mallorca by a point plus the tiebreaker in the race for fourth. Sevilla finish up at Almeria while Mallorca host Espanyol. Neither Almeria nor Espanyol have anything to play for. Fourth place gets a shot at the Champions' League playoff.

At the bottom, four clubs –Malaga, Racing, Valladolid, and Tenerife— are on 36 points, while Xerez are on 33. Three of these clubs are going down. Complicating matters, the tiebreaker between two or more clubs is not goal difference, but head-to-head results. While Malaga and Valladolid play the big boys, Racing look good against a bored Gijon, Tenerife travels to a totally unmotivated third-place Valencia, and Xerez travel to Pamplona to face a disinterested Osasuna. 

Valladolid, with manager Javier Clemente, are my sentimental pick but they seem to have no shot; Xerez has left it too late. Racing and Tenerife look like they're the ones staying up, but a word of caution to the bettors in the audience: if Barcelona scores early and often, Real Madrid could roll over and let Malaga win. Real and Malaga have a good working relationship, and Real owe Malaga a favour.


Bayern Muenchen clinched the title with a 3-1 win away to Hertha Berlin. Arjen Robben paced Bayern with two second-half goals. With this trophy in the bag, Bayern now plays for the Cup against Werder Bremen on May 15, and for the Champions' League against Inter Milan on May 22.

Schalke 04 were never going to catch Bayern today and signed off with a 0-0 draw at Mainz 05. Schalke's second-place finish puts them into next season's Champions' League.

Bremen's 1-1 draw with Hamburger sealed third place and a Champions' League playoff spot. Peruvian international Claudio Pizarro opened the scoring for Bremen; Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy replied for the visitors.

Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Dortmund, and VfB Stuttgart will play in next year's Europa League.

At the bottom, Hannover 96 found safety with a 3-0 win at VfL Bochum, condemning Bochum to Bundesliga-2 in the process. Bochum's collapse is now complete. The club had lost eight out of nine games and won only twice in the season's second half.

Nurnberg finished third-last, and will play Bundesliga-2 side Augsburg for a place in the top division next year. Already up for next season are Kaiserslautern, and a resurrected St. Pauli team that was penniless seven years ago. St. Pauli represents Hamburg's red-light district, and their punk and far-left fans are among Europe's most flamboyant.