Arbeloa orders Madrid to regain focus

Real Madrid have little time to dwell on their midweek disappointment against Lyon as they prepare to face Villarreal on Sunday in the first of what could prove a decisive run of home matches.

An off-colour Madrid lost the away leg of their Champions League last-16 clash with Lyon 1-0 and they will need to produce a much better performance in the return meeting if they are to avoid tumbling out of the tournament at the same stage for the sixth successive season.

That match is not until next month though, and in the meantime Madrid will need to concentrate their efforts on the league and try to make the most of the problems leaders Barcelona are experiencing.

The first challenge is a clash with coach Manuel Pellegrini's former club Villarreal, which is arguably the biggest test Madrid have had so far at home in La Liga - where they have won 11 out of 11 and kept eight clean sheets.

It will not be Madrid's final test at the Bernabeu though, and their upcoming home matches are likely to determine whether Cristiano Ronaldo and Co will be celebrating any silverware this season.

After the visit of Villarreal come successive league clashes with Sevilla, Sporting Gijon, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia.

They also have the second leg of their European tie with Lyon during that spell, whilst knowing that if they go all the way to the Champions League final then they will play another key 'home' match as the Bernabeu is the host venue.

Madrid therefore have plenty to play for over the coming months, and as such defender Alvaro Arbeloa insists they have to put the Lyon setback behind them.

"There are three weeks before we play the second leg, so we can't forget that we are also playing for La Liga," he said.

"The Villarreal match is very important. They are a team that are improving all the time. We need to get our game back on track."

Madrid received a huge boost in the title race last weekend when local rivals Atletico become the first team to beat leaders Barca in the league this season.

That helped reduce the gap between the top two to two points, and Barca will be eager to bounce back against Racing Santander at the Nou Camp on Saturday.

Coach Pep Guardiola continues to have a selection headache, though. Last weekend he was without six defensive players through injury and suspension, and this weekend it is the midfield that's the main concern with Xavi, Seydou Keita and possibly Yaya Toure all missing.

Sergio Busquets admits the loss of Xavi is a big blow, saying: "Xavi is a very important player. He sets the rhythm of the match. He's the heart of this Barca team, but let's hope we don't miss him too much."

Aside from Barca's game there are two other matches on Saturday night, with Deportivo La Coruna hosting bottom club Xerez - who are now 10 points from safety - and Sevilla going to Real Mallorca.

Mallorca, who surrendered fourth spot to Sevilla during the last round of matches, will be pleased to be back at home after going down 1-0 to relegation-threatened Tenerife on Monday. Mallorca, like Madrid, boast a 100% record at home.

There are five other matches on Sunday aside from the big showdown at the Bernabeu, with Malaga hosting Espanyol, Sporting going to improving Real Zaragoza, Almeria meeting Atletico, Osasuna hosting second-bottom Real Valladolid and Athletic Bilbao taking on Tenerife.

Tenerife, who have the worst away record in the division with just two points from 10 games, won their first match in over two months with their triumph over fellow islanders Mallorca.

The remaining match is the Monday night fixture between third-placed Valencia and Getafe.

Pro-Russia rebels guard a train containing the bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 crash in Torez, Ukraine
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Struggling actors who scrape a living working in repertory theatres should get paid a 'living wage', Sir Ian McKellen has claimed
Skye McCole Bartusiak's mother said she didn't use drink or drugs
peopleActress was known for role in Mel Gibson film The Patriot
Arts and Entertainment
Damon Albarn is starting work on a new West End musical
artsStar's 'leftfield experimental opera' is turning mainstream
Life and Style
Paul and his father
artsPaul Carter wants to play his own father in the film of his memoirs
Ben Stokes trudges off after his latest batting failure for England as Ishant Sharma celebrates one of his seven wickets
Arts and Entertainment
Members of the public are invited to submit their 'sexcapades' to Russell T Davies' new series Tofu
Sky's Colin Brazier rummages through an MH17 victim's belongings live on air
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game
arts + ents'The Imitation Game' stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley
i100... and no one notices
Arts and Entertainment
Friends reunited: Julian Ovenden, Richard Cant and Matt Bardock in rehearsals for the Donmar revival of 'My Night
with Reg'
theatrePoignancy of Kevin Elyot's play being revived just after his death
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor