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.

Sport
Super BowlAfter Katy Perry madness it's back to The Independent's live coverage of Super Bowl 49!
News
See what Twitter had to say about the first half of the Super Bowl
News
people
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

The super-rich now live in their own Elysium - they breathe better air, and eat better food, when they're not making beans on toast for their kids

The super-rich now live in their own Elysium

They breathe better air, eat better food, take better medicine
A generation of dropouts failed by colleges

Dropout generation failed by colleges

£800m a year wasted on students who quit courses before they graduate
Entering civilian life 'can be like going into the jungle' for returning soldiers

Homeless Veterans appeal

Entering civilian life can be like going into the jungle
Sam Taylor-Johnson: Woman on top

Sam Taylor-Johnson: Woman on top

Fifty Shades of Grey director on bringing the hit to the screen
As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch