Previews: Van der Vaart ready for Real

MADRID - Brief news from La Liga ahead of this weekend's matches:

The Real Madrid players are fully behind coach Manuel Pellegrini despite criticism of the Chilean in the media following Tuesday's 1-0 defeat at Lyon in their Champions League last-16 first leg, according to midfielder Esteban Granero.

"We have a coach in whom we have confidence and who is doing things very well; we don't want any other," Granero said at a news conference.

"We hope he stays for many years. We will be with him to the death and we believe in his playing philosophy."

Real midfielder Rafael van der Vaart returned to full training on Friday and should be available for Sunday's match at home to Villarreal, the club said on their website.

Midfielders Guti and Royston Drenthe and defender Christoph Metzelder trained in the gym and are doubtful for the game, which will be Pellegrini's first league match at his previous club since he took over as Real coach in June.

Real's loss to Lyon could affect the team in two ways, Villarreal goalkeeper Diego Lopez said.

"One is negative and they will be nervous, but on the other hand they are sure to want to cause us some damage," the Spain international said at a news conference. "We have to concentrate hard and deploy all our weapons to repel them."

Leaders Barcelona are still two points clear of Real at the top despite last weekend's 2-1 loss at Atletico Madrid and defender Gerard Pique, who missed the match at the Calderon through suspension, says the squad is full of confidence.

"There are no doubts whatsoever in the dressing room," the Spain international told a news conference. "We will continue to play our way and we won't take our foot off the accelerator."

Barca coach Pep Guardiola will take charge of his 100th match on Saturday at home to Racing Santander and should have midfielder Yaya Toure, defender Dmytro Chygrynskiy and possibly right back Daniel Alves back from injury.

Barca have won 70 of their 99 matches under Guardiola, drawing 19 and losing 10, a run that brought them six trophies in 2009 including the Spanish league and the Champions League.

Valencia, 10 points behind Real in third, have almost certainly lost Jeremy Mathieu for the rest of the season after the French defender damaged ankle ligaments in Thursday's 1-0 Europa League defeat at Club Bruges.

Mathieu will undergo surgery on Friday and will be sidelined for three months, club doctor Jordi Candel said at a news conference. Unai Emery's side host Getafe on Monday.

Fourth-placed Sevilla will attempt to become the first side to come away from Real Mallorca with any points this season when they play at the Ono Estadi on Saturday.

"They are very tough opponents but our intention is to win and not relinquish the Champions League qualification spot," Sevilla coach Manolo Jimenez said at a news conference.

Mallorca are two points behind the Andalusians in fifth and have won 10 out of 10 at home but only one of 12 away.

Atletico Madrid must not let last weekend's defeat of Barca go to their heads ahead of their match at Almeria on Sunday, according to midfielder Raul Garcia.

"We are coming off the win over Barcelona, the best team in the world, but we can't be over-confident," Garcia told a news conference on Friday. "Almeria are a great team and they have improved a lot in the last few games."