Match Preview: Real Madrid vs Sevilla
As one season defining game of football goes by, another comes up. Real Madrid may have crashed out of the Champions League after the 2-0 loss at Stamford Bridge but today’s game presents them with the opportunity to redeem themselves and with a win — be in total control of LaLiga Santander.
Defending the league title was one of the many objectives of Real Madrid’s season when it kicked off. As of now, it remains their only one. The Merengues were strangely indecisive in London. Unlike any of their other big game displays. After Barcelona and Atlético Madrid played out a stalemate last night however, the league is now in their hands.
What to Expect
This has been a season unlike any other for Real Madrid. The possibility of going trophyless will seem realistically feasible if they are to drop any points tonight. Defeat in Europe shouldn’t do anything to heavily inflict damage on a side as capable as Real are. Though the fitness levels have gone downhill and Zinedine Zidane finds himself in a difficult position, Madrid know full well how to win their games.
Sevilla on the other hand are well equipped with players who can not just keep the ball, but make good use of it. Their early season wobbles were followed by a period of immense consistency starting from early March till just last Monday, during which time the Andalusians went 9 games unbeaten (winning 7 and drawing 2). Before the loss to Athletic Club, their season was pretty steadfast and with a win tonight they might well climb up to a possible top 3 finish.
There’s something about this Sevilla side that makes you think that they’re going to play better football, create high quality chances and get into their rhythm quicker than Madrid. If they manage to pile up the pressure early on and possibly stun the Champions with one or two blows, they will have a very positive chance. Real Madrid need to remain wary, and improvise on every opportunity that opens up for them.
Sergio Ramos’ season is over after his injury in London. Ferland Mendy has pulled out of the squad with his own foot problem, while Raphaël Varane remains injured. Dani Carvajal is sidelined too, which means all of Real Madrid’s four first choice defenders are out of this fixture. Their squad depth problems in terms of defensive alternatives could never be emphasised more.
As for Sevilla, Joan Jordán should overcome a toe injury to feature in the middle of the park, while Jules Koundé and Youssef En-Nesyri are expected to shake off minor issues to make the starting XI. The majority of Lopetegui’s side picks itself, with Lucas Ocampos and Suso set to feature in the final third of the field, but Papu Gomez will be in contention to start if Jordan misses out.
Odriozola — Militão — Nacho — Marcelo
Modrić — Casemiro — Kroos
Hazard — Benzema — Asensio
Navas — Koundé — Carlos — Acuña
Rakitić — Fernando — Jordán
Suso — En-Nesyri — Ocampos
Players to Watch
Real Madrid: Eden Hazard. Plenty to look out for after the disappointment in England. Neither has his season gone to plan, nor do the fans have any sort of consistency in opinion on him. Everyone wants to see the best version of Eden Hazard in these final few fixtures but it won’t surprise anyone if we don’t. Strangely enough, he seems to be on the list of unwanted names at the club. This offers the perfect and perhaps the final opportunity for the Belgian to truly redeem himself. Now or never.
Sevilla: Youssef En-Nesyri. The Moroccan is a traditional number 9, lethal in the box but with subtle variations to his game. He improvises with runs in behind and can hold up the ball well. His best asset though, is his ability to finish. It must be said though that he is Julen Lopetegui’s prime goalscoring influence. If we manage to contain him, things can get difficult for them.
Then again they possess great talent otherwise – Jesus Navas and Joules Koundé are excellent defenders while Suso’s creativity off the right flank is priceless. For how much he offers in terms of statistics though, En-Nesyri is the one we need to watch out for. 17 goals in 34 LaLiga appearances in total, with Lucas Ocampos being next in line with just 5.
Real Madrid 2-1 Sevilla
Real Madrid’s defence was anything but air tight against Chelsea. The makeshift defence will look to tidy things up but with Sevilla in this kind of form, I expect them to score. Lopetegui’s men were unlucky in midweek as they conceded to a 90th minute Iñaki Williams goal in what would’ve otherwise been a very well earned draw.