Title in Real's hands against Osasuna

May 1, 2008

MADRID, May 1 (Reuters) - The champagne was put on ice at the Bernabeu after Villarreal beat Real Betis last week, but this weekend the destination of the league title is in Real Madrid's hands.

Real will pocket their 31st Spanish championship if Villarreal fail to beat Getafe on Sunday or they win their match at Osasuna.

Real's Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder is confident the team will not have to wait any longer to celebrate the title.

'I want to win the league against Osasuna and I'm sure we are going to do it,' he said earlier this week. 'Villarreal aren't going to slip up but neither are we and so we will be champions this weekend.'

Osasuna, however, have plenty to play for and are likely to prove difficult opponents.

The Navarrans, who lost 3-0 at Valencia last weekend, are just two points above the relegation zone and can ill afford to concede any points if they are to avoid the drop.

Goalkeeper Ricardo will be able to play after his red card against Valencia was overturned on appeal, but centre forward Dady is a doubt.

Real are likely to be strengthened by the return of Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy, who should get a run after a six-week absence following ankle surgery, but playmaker Guti is a doubt because of a strained knee ligament.

Second-placed Villarreal, who are 10 points adrift of Real with four games to play, are aiming to ensure they do not gift their rivals the title by slipping up against an out-of-sorts Getafe.

'We are hoping that Real don't become champions this week,' said club president Fernando Roig. 'As usual we will be going for the win and we will be fighting until the bitter end to finish as high up the table as possible.'

Although Villarreal's hopes of winning the title are slim, a win over Getafe will put them in a strong position to finish as runners-up and beat Barcelona to the all-important automatic place in the group phase of the Champions League.

The Catalans are four points behind Villarreal and morale has taken a bashing after their 1-0 defeat against Manchester United in the semi-finals of this season's competition.

Frank Rijkaard's side have failed to score in their last four outings in all competitions and there are concerns about how their fans will react in Sunday's match at home to Valencia.

'We are devastated by the defeat,' Argentine centre back Gabriel Milito told reporters after the United match.

'Now we need to win our remaining four matches and finish the season as best we can.'