x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Better safe than sorry for Guardiola

Safety over record breaking statistics - that's been Barcelona's philosophy ahead of Wednesday's Champions League final against Manchester United.

Safety over record breaking statistics - that's been Barcelona's philosophy ahead of Wednesday's Champions League final against Manchester United. Pep Guardiola rested key players against Osasuna and the Catalans lost for a second successive weekend, but defeat could not spoil a night of celebration as the league title trophy was lifted at Camp Nou. Wearing shirts emblazoned with "Campions 09" on their backs, Barca's players sang, danced and threw a joyous Guardiola in the air in front of a delirious 77,331 crowd.

Barca have relinquished the chance of catching Real Madrid's all-time Primera Liga goals scored record, but few fans are complaining. They would have if Lionel Messi, Xavi or Carles Puyol had played and picked up an injury. Osasuna's 1-0 victory in a tedious encounter came after a first half Walter Pandiani goal and was vital in the Navarrans' relegation fight. A win for Sporting Gijon meant Osasuna remain in the drop zone though, where defeats for Numanica and Recreativo Huelva confirmed their relegation.

Osasuna are one of five teams who could fill the final relegation spot next week, with Gijon, Real Betis, Getafe and Valladolid all battling to stay up. A Diego Forlan hat-trick helped Atletico Madrid to a 4-1 away win at Athletic Bilbao, lifting the Uruguayan striker above Samuel Eto'o in the race for the Pichichi top scorer award. Forlan piped the Cameroonian to the crown in 2005 and his 31 goals leave him two ahead of Eto'o with a game to play.

Valencia will not play in next season's Champions League after losing 3-1 at neighbours Villarreal, who move up to fifth, two points behind Atletico who occupy the key fourth place Champions League qualification spot and need just a point to stay there. Sevilla confirmed third place with a 1-0 win over Deportivo. amitten@thenational.ae