Sevilla told to fight ahead of Real Betis battle

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

Sevilla must fight as if it were "the end of the world" in order to win at city rivals Real Betis on Saturday, club president Jose Maria del Nido has urged his players.

Sevilla, who are out of Europe and the King's Cup, have slipped down to seventh in La Liga and are without a win in four outings. They lie three points ahead of their neighbours in 11th.

"I'd like you all to be aware on Saturday you have to give your all on the field of play, as if it were the end of the world. The same as if your life were to end after the final whistle," Del Nido told reporters.

He also stood by unpopular coach Marcelino. "I respect the fans but it is my responsibility and I say he is under no risk for this game, the next or any other."

Leaders Real Madrid returned to training on Friday with a media blackout apart from a Zinedine Zidane interview in a daily sports paper.

The controversy over Pepe's stamp on Lionel Messi's hand in Wednesday's 2-1 home King's Cup quarter-final first leg defeat continued to dominate headlines, and the club website failed to offer any of their usual details on the day's session.

Real receive Athletic Bilbao on Sunday with Alvaro Arbeloa available again after suspension.

Bilbao have lost 5-1 on their last two league trips to the Bernabeu, but under new coach Marcelo Bielsa have started to impress with their brand of possession-based football and have climbed to fifth in the standings.

"Apart from the obvious difference in quality, we are more Barca than Real," midfielder Ander Herrera said. "It will be more difficult than playing Barca because Real are fantastic on the counter."

Second-placed Barcelona trail Real by five points ahead of their last game of the first half of the season at Malaga on Sunday.

David Villa, Ibrahim Afellay and Pedro are all injured while B team striker Jonathan Soriano has been sold to Austrian side FC Salzburg, the club said. Soriano top scored in the second division with 32 goals in the 2010/11 season.

Malaga could give Cameroon goalkeeper Carlos Kameni his debut on Sunday after he completed his move from Barca's city rivals Espanyol during the week.

The Qatari-owned club have slipped down to eighth in the standings and are without a win in six outings in all competitions.

Villarreal have promoted Argentine midfielder Gonzalo Castellani to their first team in time for Monday's visit of Sporting Gijon, in a battle between the teams 18th and 19th in the standings respectively.


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