Iniesta, Torres bid farewell as La Liga season ends

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MADRID (Reuters) – It will be a weekend of goodbyes in Spain as the Liga season draws to a close, with Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta and Atletico Madrid’s Fernando Torres set to play their last games for their boyhood clubs.

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Soccer Football – International Friendly – Barcelona v Mamelodi Sundowns – FNB Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa – May 16, 2018. Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta looks on. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Champions Barca will look to give Iniesta the perfect send-off when they host Real Sociedad on Sunday in La Liga’s final round of matches.

The midfielder, 34, announced last month that he would leave the club he has been at since the age of 12, with local media reporting he will move to Japan in the close season.

The club will pay an emotional tribute to their captain, with an elaborate mosaic reading ‘Infinite Iniesta’ in Catalan displayed by fans in their Nou Camp stadium.

Barca lost their first league game of the season last weekend away to Levante, denying them the chance to finish the campaign unbeaten.

Coach Ernesto Valverde, however, believes that nothing should detract from his double-winning side’s achievements this season.

“These things seem easy and they’re not,” he said. “We managed to get as far as we did. Of course we’re annoyed to not have the chance to go through the season unbeaten.”

Europa League winners Atletico host mid-table Eibar on Sunday before saying goodbye to Torres, whose second spell with the club finishes at the end of this season when his contract expires.

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Soccer Football – Europa League Final – Olympique de Marseille vs Atletico Madrid – Groupama Stadium, Lyon, France – May 16, 2018 Atletico Madrid’s Fernando Torres celebrates with children after winning the Europa League REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Torres, 34, has supported Atletico since he was five years old and joined their academy when he was a child, making his first-team debut at the age of 17 in 2001 when they were in Spain’s second division.

Champions League finalists Real Madrid, who will finish third behind Barca and Atletico Madrid, travel to Villarreal on Saturday.

Real coach Zinedine Zidane believes that winning the league is a special achievement, but he is happy to take solace from his team’s performance in Europe.

“Winning the league is the most difficult thing you can do…” Zidane said.

“For us the King’s Cup and La Liga haven’t gone well but we’re in the Champions League final. We want to defend our title and win a trophy that everybody wants to win.”

The Frenchman is set to use the game as a dress rehearsal for next weekend’s final, with Gareth Bale, who scored twice last time out, likely to be given another chance to impress and stake a claim for a starting berth against Liverpool in Kiev.

“It’s great to have all the players up for it and in form. Obviously for me it’ll be a headache picking a lineup for the final. The important thing is that we all arrive there in optimum form.”

Elsewhere fourth-placed Valencia host relegated Deportivo La Coruna.



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