Beckham doubtful for Real's trip to Juventus

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The Independent Football

David Beckham's participation in Real Madrid's Champ-ions' League tie against Juventus on Wednesday is in serious doubt after a back injury forced the England captain to be substituted in Valencia on Saturday. Beckham admitted afterwards that he had started the game despite not being fully fit.

David Beckham's participation in Real Madrid's Champ-ions' League tie against Juventus on Wednesday is in serious doubt after a back injury forced the England captain to be substituted in Valencia on Saturday. Beckham admitted afterwards that he had started the game despite not being fully fit.

"Today I woke up and I could feel my back," he said, after Real's 1-1 draw. "I had to have a lot of work and injections on it before the game."

Beckham had a poor game by recent standards, picked up a booking that will see him miss next week's derby against Getafe, and was substituted 13 minutes from the end. When asked if his back had responded to treatment, he said, "No, not really. We'll have to see how it is tomorrow and take it from there."

With their rivals Barcelona securing a 1-0 win at struggling Osasuna, thanks to Samuel Eto'o's 18th goal of the season, second-placed Real now trail the Catalans by eight points in the standings. The French winger Ludovic Giuly was missing for Barcelona with a back injury, but should be fit to face Chelsea in the second leg of their Champions' League tie at Stamford Bridge tomorrow.

Barcelona's victory means the title is gradually slipping out of Real's reach, but they can take some comfort from a hard-earned point against a rejuvenated Valencia.

Ronaldo ended his recent scoring drought with a sparkling individual goal, and the Real defence produced a solid display that augurs well for their game in Turin on Wednesday.

Although they fell behind to a neatly executed strike from the lively Pablo Aimar, Real hung on and levelled the game 14 minutes later when Ronaldo snapped up a superbly disguised through ball from Guti, danced his way round keeper Santiago Cañizares, left the defender Carlos Marchena sprawling on the ground with a trademark shimmy and then poked into the empty net.

For last season's champions, Valencia, the draw confirms their revival since the departure of Claudio Ranieri. The players have been given a new lease of life since the Italian's exit and Aimar and Ruben Baraja revelled in their greater freedom in midfield.

The two combined brilliantly to put the home side ahead. Baraja steamed through a gaping hole in Real's midfield and slipped the ball to Aimar, who played a neat one-two with Mista on the edge of the area before sending a precisely struck shot past Iker Casillas.

Real, who were missing the injured Zinedine Zidane and Raul as well as stomach-bug victim Michael Owen, struggled to find their rhythm but still managed to draw level just before the half-hour thanks to Ronaldo's virtuoso effort.

And although it was Valencia who held the upper hand for most of the game, Real, and Ronaldo in particular, still posed a serious threat on the break.

Real keeper Casillas pulled off a fine save low to his right to stop a sharp shot from Valencia striker Mista on the hour but Cañizares had to produce even better efforts to twice deny Ronaldo in the closing stages.

Despite falling further behind Barcelona, Beckham insisted that his team-mates are not giving up on the title just yet.

"It is frustrating because we haven't won" Beckham said. "But it's tough to win here and it's comforting to know that Barcelona have still to come here and will need to win."

Beckham also remained upbeat about his side's chances of defending their 1-0 first-leg lead against Juventus. "We have to go there and be confident. We can't go there looking for a draw, because we are only 1-0 up."

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