Madrid Draws with Betis with Likely Starters for Champions League Final and Kroos Says Farewell

Real Madrid's German midfielder #08 Toni Kroos is thrown in the air by teammates during the Spanish league football match between Real Madrid CF and Real Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on May 25, 2024. (AFP)
Real Madrid's German midfielder #08 Toni Kroos is thrown in the air by teammates during the Spanish league football match between Real Madrid CF and Real Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on May 25, 2024. (AFP)
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Madrid Draws with Betis with Likely Starters for Champions League Final and Kroos Says Farewell

Real Madrid's German midfielder #08 Toni Kroos is thrown in the air by teammates during the Spanish league football match between Real Madrid CF and Real Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on May 25, 2024. (AFP)
Real Madrid's German midfielder #08 Toni Kroos is thrown in the air by teammates during the Spanish league football match between Real Madrid CF and Real Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on May 25, 2024. (AFP)

Real Madrid drew with Real Betis 0-0 on Saturday in its last warmup game before facing Borussia Dortmund in the Champions league final.

Madrid wrapped up the Spanish league title three weeks ago, and since then coach Carlo Ancelotti has rotated his lineups to rest his starters. But the Italian likely had his top-choice players back in his starting 11 against Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu.

There were only two changes from the Champions League semifinals victory over Bayern Munich.

The versatile Eduardo Camavinga was in the spot of injured holding midfielder Aurélien Tchouaméni, who will miss the final due to a foot injury.

The other tweak was goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois starting over Andriy Lunin, the backup who played most of the season before the Belgian recovered recently from an ACL injury.

Ancelotti, however, would not confirm that this will be his starting team for the final in London on June 1.

“I have a week to think about it, we may still have some doubts,” Ancelotti said. “We will enjoy preparing for the final and arrive at our best form on Saturday and try to win it.”

KROOS HONORED

Toni Kroos played his last home game for Madrid. The 34-year-old midfielder announced this week he will retire after playing for Germany at this summer’s European Championship.

Kroos' teammates donned his No. 8 shirt to hold an honor guard for him before kickoff. When he was substituted late, his teammates and coach took turns hugging him. Kroos then embraced his three young children.

He can add to his 22 titles, including four Champions League crowns, with Madrid next weekend.

“I couldn’t have asked for more,” Kroos said. “These have been 10 unforgettable years. Now the best way for me to finish would be winning another title.”

DOVBYK EYES TOP SCORER

Ukraine striker Artem Dovbyk is set to finish the Spanish league as its top scorer after his main challenger fell one goal short of his mark.

Dovbyk, who is expected to play in Euro 2024, leads the league in the final round with 24 goals.

Villarreal striker Alexander Sorloth has 23 and had a chance to equal Dovbyk when it visited Osasuna. But the Norway striker appeared to suffer a leg injury early and had to be substituted without scoring.

Dovbyk was two goals behind Sorloth in the goals race until he bagged a hat trick to fuel a 7-0 rout of Granada on Friday.

Dovbyk's last outside threat is Robert Lewandowski, who has 18 before Barcelona visits Sevilla on Sunday in Xavi Hernández's last game in charge.

Dovbyk joined Girona last summer from Ukrainian club SC Dnipro-1 and helped transform the small club into a European sensation. The Catalan club partly owned by Manchester City's Adu Dhabi ownership qualified for the Champions League for the first time with a third-place finish.

Villarreal drew at Osasuna 1-1 after Sorloth's replacement, José Luis Morales, scored a second-half equalizer.

Osasuna striker Ante Budimir, who is on Croatia's Euro 2024 squad, netted his first goal since recovering from fractured ribs to give the hosts a first-half lead. He finished the league with 17 goals.

Villarreal will likely conclude the campaign with the league’s top assist-maker. Midfielder Álex Baena, who could be on Spain’s Euros 2024 squad, made it 14 assists by setting up Morales. Villarreal said that tied a club record set by Juan Riquelme.

The game also featured the farewell of coach Jagoba Arrasate after his six years at Osasuna. Arrasate announced in March that he turned down the offer of a contract extension, saying he needed a fresh start.

NICO SHINES

Nico Williams capped his superb season by scoring to give fifth-placed Athletic Bilbao a 1-0 win at Rayo Vallecano. Williams helped Athletic win the Copa del Rey and is a sure bet to play for Spain at Euro 2024.

Fourth-placed Atletico Madrid got goals from Samuel Lino and Reinildo Mandava to defeat sixth-placed Real Sociedad 2-0.

The final round had no drama with the title, European berths and relegation spots all decided beforehand.

Madrid, Barcelona, Girona and Atletico will play in the Champions League next season, while Athletic and Sociedad are Europa League bound. Betis will play the Conference League.

FINALLY A REASON TO CHEER

Almeria, which was relegated a month before the season ended, was at least able to escape last place and give its fans something to cheer about after crushing Cadiz 6-1. Luis Suárez and Sergio Arribas both notched braces in the rout.

Almeria pushed Granada to the bottom. Cadiz will join them in the second division next season.



Macron: Decision to Dissolve Parliament Should Not Spoil Olympics Mood

French President Emmanuel Macron attends a flags ceremony at Borgo Egnazia Golf Club San Domenico during the G7 Summit hosted by Italy in Apulia region, on June 13, 2024 in Savelletri. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)
French President Emmanuel Macron attends a flags ceremony at Borgo Egnazia Golf Club San Domenico during the G7 Summit hosted by Italy in Apulia region, on June 13, 2024 in Savelletri. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)
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Macron: Decision to Dissolve Parliament Should Not Spoil Olympics Mood

French President Emmanuel Macron attends a flags ceremony at Borgo Egnazia Golf Club San Domenico during the G7 Summit hosted by Italy in Apulia region, on June 13, 2024 in Savelletri. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)
French President Emmanuel Macron attends a flags ceremony at Borgo Egnazia Golf Club San Domenico during the G7 Summit hosted by Italy in Apulia region, on June 13, 2024 in Savelletri. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday he did not think his decision to dissolve parliament and call for new parliamentary elections would spoil the mood ahead of next month's Olympic Games.

"French people have no wish for the Olympic Games to not take place," said Macron, speaking at a G7 summit in Italy.

The snap election, called at very short notice by Macron after his centrist alliance was trounced by the far-right National Rally in Sunday's European Parliament ballot, has upended French politics, with parties rushing to field candidates and prepare platforms.

Opinion polls project that Marine Le Pen's RN could, for the first time, top the June 30 and July 7 vote but without enough seats to win an absolute majority and govern on its own.

The RN has been kept out of power for decades by voters mistrustful of the far right and its radical policies, as well as by a decades-old consensus among mainstream parties to join forces against it.
But under the helm of Le Pen and new party leader Jordan Bardella, they have worked to detoxify their image and woo a growing number of voters across the board.