Previews: Real still smarting after Anfield humbling

BARCELONA - Real Madrid return to Primera Liga action on Saturday needing to pick themselves up after their Champions League humiliation at Liverpool midweek and seeing arch rivals Barcelona sweep aside Lyon.

Defender Gabriel Heinze said the 4-0 drubbing at Anfield had been a bitter blow but called on the players to step up as they try to reduce their six-point deficit behind leaders Barca and chase their only remaining chance of silverware this season.

With 12 matches left, Real Madrid play at Athletic Bilbao on Saturday while Barca travel to Almeria on Sunday with their hopes still alive in three competitions: Champions League, Primera Liga and King's Cup.

"To play at this club you need to find strength where there is none," Argentine international Heinze told a news conference on Wednesday. "At moments of crisis you have to pick yourself up and remember who you are representing."

Real enjoyed a blistering start to the year but their 10-match winning streak ended last weekend with a 1-1 home draw against city rivals Atletico as Barca put a poor run of form behind them with a 2-0 win in Bilbao.

Coach Pep Guardiola said after his side's 5-2 demolition of Lyon that Barca had a tough few months ahead.

"What we have to do is work, there is no other choice," the former Barca and Spain midfielder said.

"With the spirit we have we will go far. But now we need to recover mentally and physically and go to Almeria to get the three points."


Struggling Valencia host Recreativo Huelva on Saturday having failed to win a match since the beginning of February and they have dropped out of the lucrative European qualification places into eighth.

The players have not been paid part of their wages due to the club's financial woes, construction has been halted on a new stadium and a newly appointed chief executive has said they may be forced to sell players to raise cash.

Defender Raul Albiol insisted it was still possible to get back up into the top four and qualify for next season's Champions League but conceded it would be a hard fight.

"We are all to blame for the bad results and we are all feeling the pressure," the Spain international said on the club's website.

"We need to find as much confidence as possible, forget the bad results and change the dynamic of our season."

Pressure is also mounting on Real Betis coach Paco Chaparro following the Seville-based club's slide into 16th in the standings, three points above the relegation places.

"The time for talking is over and we have to do what it takes to get out of this situation," goalkeeper Ricardo Pereira said ahead of Sunday's match at home to fellow-strugglers Osasuna.

In other matches on Sunday, third-placed Sevilla play at in-form Malaga, in fifth, and Atletico (seventh) host fourth-placed Villarreal.