Arbeloa: Real Madrid would have settled for a six-point lead in La Liga at the start of the season

The Blaugrana have closed the gap on Los Blancos but the Spain international is quick to point out that the title remains in the hands of Jose Mourinho's men
Alvaro Arbeloa is unconcerned by the fact that Real Madrid have seen their 10-point lead over Barcelona at the top of La Liga reduced to six points during the past fortnight, arguing that they would have gladly accepted such an advantage at this point of the season before the campaign began.

The same pundits who said the title race had already been run are now saying that it is very much back on again, after Los Blancos drew two games in the space of four days, against Malaga and Villarreal.

However, with Madrid having got back to winning ways against Real Sociedad at the weekend, and followed up that domestic success with a 3-0 victory over Champions League quarter-final opponents APOEL on Tuesday night, Arbeloa is in a positive frame of mind going into the business end of the campaign.

"In La Liga we are at a distance from Barcelona that I think we all would have signed up for earlier this season," he told reporters after the victory in Cyprus.

"This was no breeze [against APOEL] but it is a very important step forward, though we still have another step to take before we reach the semi-finals.

"Indeed, nothing is ever final in football and we need to play many more games, very important games."

Arbeloa was speaking to the press after Madrid decided to end the media blackout they had imposed after their controversial 1-1 draw at Villarreal in La Liga.

It had been claimed that coach Jose Mourinho was behind the move to stop speaking to the press but the Spain international insisted this had not been the case.

"After the match in Villarreal a consensus decision was made among all the players and staff in the dressing room," the full-back explained.

"We thought it was best for us to remain quiet as we did not want our comments to be misinterpreted and we had a few days of peace.

"But we knew that sooner or later things would return to normal.

"I can confirm, though, that the decision was taken from inside the dressing room. It was between everyone."

Madrid return to La Liga action against Osasuna in Pamplona this weekend.

Starting last Friday and continuing for 10 weeks, is publishing exclusive extracts from Luca Caioli's new book, Ronaldo: The Obsession for Perfection. The second extract, published on Friday, looks at his first footballing forays on the island of Madeira. Don't miss it!