Beckham aims for perfect end with Real

David Beckham is looking for the ultimate parting gift from Real Madrid - his first major trophy with the club - before heading to Los Angeles.

updated: June 16, 2007 06:32 IST
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Valencia, Spain:

David Beckham is looking for the ultimate parting gift from Real Madrid - his first major trophy with the club - before heading to Los Angeles.

The 32-year-old England midfielder returned to training on Thursday after sitting out Madrid's midweek sessions to rest his sprained ankle for Sunday's season-ending game against Mallorca, knowing a victory will end a four-year title drought.

"I have had an incredible time and hopefully I will end with the best ending possible," Beckham told reporters in Madrid.

Beckham, who will join Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy on July 1, has won only one trophy with Madrid - the Spanish Supercup - after his arrival from Manchester United in 2003.

Beckham ends speculation

Beckham ended speculation that he could remain at Madrid.

"There is no clause in the contract. My last game is Sunday," Beckham said. "I made a decision, I had to. I'm very happy about that decision, it's a very exciting prospect.

"I could without a doubt have stayed for two or three more years, I could have stayed for the rest of my career but things change."

The former England captain would like to end his playing days at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium as he started them - with a win over Mallorca.

Madrid is tied with FC Barcelona with 73 points. Madrid will win its record 30th league title on head-to-head difference should the teams stay tied on points after the final round of games.

Barcelona plays last-place Gimnastic Tarragona, leaving the pressure on Madrid to end the club's longest silverware drought in 53 years.

"I started with a title and I would love to leave with one as well," said left-back Roberto Carlos, who is leaving the club after 10 seasons to join Turkish side Fenerbahce. "People think it will be easy but we have great respect for Mallorca's players and coach and are aware they'll put up a good fight."

Mallorca is 12th in the league with 49 points.

Madrid's superb run

Madrid has lost only once in its last 17 games and rallied again on Saturday for a 2-2 draw at Zaragoza that kept it in control of its destiny, as Barcelona also tied after a late defensive lapse against Espanyol.

Barcelona must now rely on Mallorca even if it wins at Gimnastic to have any chance of being the sixth team to win three consecutive titles and the first since Nou Camp's winning sides between 1991-94.

Playmaker Ronaldinho returns after missing the 2-2 draw to Espanyol due to suspension, though Iceland striker Eidur Gudjohnsen is missing with a right knee injury.

The Catalan club was crowned European champions only a year ago but has seen its season turn sour as a result of poor results and team dissension.

"The season has been very inconsistent and things have not gone as we would have liked," goalkeeper Victor Valdes said.

Ronaldinho shoulders blame

Ronaldinho shouldered some of the blame.

"This year personally I have not been well and every player is aware that they can do more," Ronaldinho told El Mundo Deportivo. "I haven't had as much time to work on what I needed and it cost me."

UEFA Cup champion Sevilla, which has 71 points, has an outside chance of collecting its first league championship since 1946.

Sevilla will need to beat in-form Villarreal and hope for a Barcelona loss coupled with a draw or loss by Madrid.

Madrid wins the title in case of a three-way tie, while Barcelona holds the goal differential tiebreaker edge against Sevilla.

But Sevilla will be without two of its biggest playmakers - striker Frederic Kanoute and right-back Daniel Alves - who are away with their national teams.

Villarreal has won seven straight and can secure a place in next season's UEFA Cup with a win, as can Zaragoza against Recreativo Huelva.

In the relegation fight, Athletic Bilbao and Real Betis have 37 points, Celta Vigo has 36 and Real Sociedad has 34. Two teams will join Gimnastic in the second division next season.

Athletic, which has never played outside Spain's top league in its 109-year history, and Betis can secure their places with wins against Levante and Racing Santander, respectively.

Celta hosts Getafe while Sociedad is at Champions League qualifier Valencia.

Sociedad and Betis would stay up in the case of a four-way tie, while Sociedad would also survive in a three-way situation.

Sociedad hasn't been relegated in 40 years.

Also on Sunday, Espanyol plays Deportivo La Coruna, while Atletico Madrid must win against Osasuna and hope either Villarreal or Zaragoza slips up for a chance to reach European play for the first time in seven years.