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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Iniesta and Torres set to say farewell on La Liga's final weekend

Iniesta set for emotional farewell after 22 years at Barcelona while Fernando Torres hopes to sign off with Atletico Madrid with a 128th goal

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder and captain Andres Iniesta gives a thumbs-up during a tribute at the Camp Nou. Josep Lago / AFP
Barcelona's Spanish midfielder and captain Andres Iniesta gives a thumbs-up during a tribute at the Camp Nou. Josep Lago / AFP

The Primera Liga's winners and losers are settled and the European qualification spots decided but for a collection of star players the final weekend of the season will be anything but a dead rubber.

Here, we look at three talking points ahead of the last matches in La Liga:

Adios Iniesta, Torres

After 674 matches and 22 years associated with the club, Andres Iniesta will bid farewell to Barcelona, who host Real Sociedad on Sunday. A grand closing ceremony is planned, with the Camp Nou crowd set to form the message "Infinito Iniesta" on both sides and Iniesta's number 8 at either end. After the match, the 34-year-old Spaniard will lift the Liga trophy and it is likely Barca manager Ernesto Valverde will substitute his midfielder to allow the club's fans one final standing ovation. Fernando Torres' departure will be no easier to stomach for Atletico Madrid, whom the forward has supported since he was five years old. A 128th goal for the club against Eibar on Sunday would bring the house down.

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Atletico no surer of Griezmann and Oblak futures

Atleti won the Europa League at a canter on Wednesday, thanks to a 3-0 win over Marseille, but silverware may not be enough to convince their two star players to stay. Antoine Griezmann, who scored twice in Lyon, looks particularly likely to move, with Barcelona expected to activate the striker's €100 million (Dh433m) buyout clause before the start of the World Cup. Jan Oblak has proven himself among, if not at the top of, the world's elite group of goalkeepers and Diego Simeone may face a fight to hold onto the Slovenian too.

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Messi preservation the priority

It is impossible to know whether had Barcelona been able to throw Messi on for the final 19 minutes against Levante last weekend, their unbeaten season would still be intact. Luis Suarez made it 5-4 in the 71st minute but Messi was not in the squad and Barca could not find an equaliser. Messi did play 16 minutes of Wednesday's friendly against Mamelodi Sundowns, a match commemorating 100 years since the birth of Nelson Mandela. Even with the World Cup approaching for the Argentine, Barca's unbeaten season mattered. It was their chance to add some gloss to a campaign still soured by their Uefa Champions League exit to Roma. Without Messi, that chance was lost.

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