David Beckham’s ankle injury is threatening to cast a shadow over what should be a fairytale ending to the former England captain’s Real Madrid career.
If Madrid beat Real Mallorca in next weekend’s final round of Primera Liga fixtures then they will be crowned Spanish champions for the first time since 2003 and the 30th time in their history.
That would also give Beckham, who is leaving the Spanish giants for Major League Soccer side Los Angeles Galaxy this summer, his first major trophy with Madrid since joining from Manchester United almost four years ago.
However, the ankle problem he sustained while on international duty with England last week could yet stymie Beckham’s farewell celebrations.
The 32-year-old played the whole of yesterday’s 2-2 draw with Real Zaragoza, a result that kept Madrid top of the Primera Liga table with one match remaining, but he needed treatment on his troublesome left ankle after pulling up whilst running with the ball late on.
Beckham was able to continue until the final whistle, but the Madrid website reported after the game that the midfielder appeared to have suffered a relapse to his ankle problem.
The injury will now be monitored over the coming days to see if Beckham will be fit to play in next Sunday’s game against Mallorca, although Madrid coach Fabio Capello is confident of good news.
“It does not worry me because it is the same that he had with the England national team,” the Italian said after the Zaragoza match at La Romareda.
“I think that next Sunday he will play with the team.”
Beckham’s dream of winning the Primera Liga title looked set to be crushed as Madrid trailed 2-1 at Zaragoza heading into the dying minutes of Saturday’s match, while at the same time title rivals Barcelona led 2-1 at home to Espanyol.
Both Madrid and Barca went into the penultimate round of fixtures level on 72 points, but Capello’s men held the upper hand due to their better head-to-head record against the two-time reigning champions this season.
Had the scores remained as they were, Barca would have held a three-point advantage ahead of the final weekend, but last-gasp equalisers at both grounds - by Espanyol’s Raul Tamudo and Madrid’s Ruud van Nistelrooy – put Madrid back in pole position.
“I think it has been a peculiar game, and a peculiar round of matches with the draws of Sevilla, Barcelona and us,” said Capello.
“We are happy with this result. We have played against a team who have players of great quality.
“If I am honest, in the first half we have played without order. In the second we have played much better, with more calmness and always trying to get back into the game with fight, heart and team-spirit.”
Madrid forward Robinho admits Zaragoza, who twice took the lead through Diego Milito before being pegged back both times by goals from Van Nistelrooy, gave his side a torrid night at times.
“We have suffered greatly but we ended up getting a draw that gets us one step closer to league glory,” he said.
“We played well, but we can do a lot better. Let’s hope we are champions next Sunday.”
The Brazilian was keen not to get too far ahead of himself though, adding: “Feelings of euphoria are for the fans to enjoy. There’s still 90 crucial minutes to be played and we need to win.”
Robinho’s compatriot Emerson added on his club’s website: “We need to calm down. I think that being overjoyed is normal tonight.
“We are back to training on Tuesday and we have to leave any feeling of elation behind us and work real hard. We have one more match and we need to win it to be champions.”