MADRID - Brief news from the Primera Liga ahead of this weekend's matches: Real Madrid winger Arjen Robben is itching to get back to action against Valencia on Saturday after serving a one-match suspension that ruled him out of last weekend's 2-0 defeat to leaders Barcelona at the Nou Camp. "I played at a pretty high level in the last two matches and that gave me a boost," the Dutch international said on the club's website. "I have a lot of confidence now and I want to maintain this level so I can be an important player here." Valencia striker Juan Mata, a former Real Madrid reserve player, said it is a dangerous time to be playing the champions, who have slipped to sixth in the table after four defeats in their last five matches. "Real Madrid is always dangerous," he said in an interview with Friday's Marca newspaper. "At the moment because they need wins and before, when they were playing well, because they were on a great run." Fourth-placed Villarreal lack confidence ahead of their home match against Barcelona on Sunday because of a recent poor run of form, winger Santi Cazorla said. "If we lose our concentration it will be bad for us as they (Barca) are in incredible form," he said on the club's website. "But it's a motivation playing against the best team in the league and it will be a special match for all of us." Barcelona defender Rafael Marquez sees Villarreal as one of the Catalans' main rivals for the league title this year, the Mexican said on the club's website. "Villarreal is going to be a very tough opponent (on Sunday), especially on home ground," he added. "Even if they haven't been on great form recently, we know that the top teams are more motivated when they play each other." Sevilla's exit from the UEFA Cup on Thursday was a severe blow for the Andalusians, back-to-back winners of the competition in 2006 and 2007, ahead of Sunday's match against Real Mallorca, defender Ivica Dragutinovic said. "We are out of a competition that has given us a lot in recent years but that's the way it is," the Serbian said on the club's website. Sevilla are in third place in the table, level on points with second-placed Valencia. Another victory for Real Valladolid, eighth in the league after a run of four wins in their last five matches, at Numancia on Sunday could almost be enough to remove the threat of relegation, coach Jose Luis Mendilibar said. "The match is very important because a win for them would allow them to get further away from the danger zone and for us would almost allow us to forget it," he told the club's website.
19 December 2008
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