Real Madrid went four points clear at the top of La Liga with a 2-1 win over Sevilla but victory came at a cost for Ancelotti's men. Real face Atletico at the weekend and will be without Marcelo who was booked and will now be suspended. There will also be doubts over the fitness of Sergio Ramos and James Rodriguez who were taken off in the first half with injuries. Real have earned a reputation in recent weeks for starting slowly and once again they could have conceded inside two minutes when Vitolo got behind Alvaro Arbeloa but Iker Casillas got out quickly to narrow the angle and make the save.
Real were dealt a blow on nine minutes when Sergio Ramos went off with what looked like a hamstring injury and the Spanish international was replaced by Nacho. Real Madrid made the breakthrough on twelve minutes with their first real chance. Marcelo picked up the ball on the left and put a cross into the back post which James Rodriguez met with a diving header. Sevilla were convinced it was offside but replays showed Timothee Kolodziejczak was playing the Colombian onside.
Sevilla could have equalised on eighteen minutes when Vitolo put Vicente Iborra one on one with Casillas. Iborra rounded Casillas but his shot struck the post and was put out for a corner. From the resulting corner Sevilla had another chance when Grzegorz Krychowiak found himself free at the back post but he put his header wide of the Real goal.
Minutes later Real could have doubled their lead after Marcelo's shot was blocked by Fernando Navarro but the follow up fell to Sami Khedira who struck a powerful effort toward goal but it went narrowly to the outside of Beto's goal. Sevilla had another great chance to equalise on twenty-two minutes when Raphael Varane could only clear as far as Vitolo but Casillas was equal to his acrobatic effort and Carlos Bacca was unable to get to the rebound.
There was more concern for Ancelotti ahead of the Atletico game at the weekend as he was forced to make a second change in the first half due to injury. This time it was the scorer of the opening goal James who had to come off and he was replaced by Jese.
After half an hour it was Sevilla's turn to make a first half substitution when Karim Benzema collided with Sevilla goalkeeper, Beto. The Portuguese goalkeeper came off worse and was replaced by Sergio Rico.
Unfortunately for Rico his first task was to pick the ball out of the net after Real Madrid's second goal of the game. Isco done well to beat a defender before trying a one two with Benzema. Isco was unable to control the return pass but it fell perfectly for Jese who hammered home first time with his right foot to make it 2-0. It could have been three minutes later when Gareth Bale released Arbeloa down the right and his cut back was met by Benzema but the Frenchmans shot went wide of the near post with the goal at his mercy.
Madrid had one more chance before half time when Bale put Khedira in with a clever lob but Rico was able to parry away Khedira's effort to keep the deficit at two going into the break. The hosts continued creating opportunities after the interval and Jese almost made it 3-0 when he got past Figueiros on the wing but his shot went wide via the post as he got one on one with Rico.
Rico made another fine stop to deny Isco on fifty-five minutes. Benzema played a pass to Jese who found Isco running at the Sevilla defence but the goalkeeper came out and got a hand out to stop the former Malaga man from getting on the scoresheet. Sevilla had a golden chance to pull one back just minutes later but Iborra managed to miss from five yards out after a sublime cross from Navarro. Iborra appeared to connect with his heel and the ball went back where it came from instead of goalward.
Things got worse for Ancelotti on the hour mark when Marcelo received a booking for a challenge on Vitolo which means he will be suspended for Saturday's derby. Sevilla continued to push forward but Real were defending well until the eightieth minute. Vitolo done well on the left beating two Real players before squaring into the path of substitute Iago Aspas who didn't make the best of contact but the ball found it's away into Casillas' goal to set up a nervy last ten minutes for the hosts.
Sevilla pushed for an equaliser but a banged up Real Madrid held firm to clinch a vital three points that sees them move four clear of Barcelona and seven clear of Atletico ahead of the derby.
Ancelotti will welcome Cristiano Ronaldo back into the side on Saturday but with Pepe and Fabio Coentrao already injured he will be concerned at Marcelo's suspension and Sergio Ramos' injury. If all four miss out Real will have a very inexperienced back line for such a crucial fixture. For Unai Emery it will be a case of what might have been. His side missed some great opportunities on a night when Real were far from their best but he can't afford to dwell on it and will instead try to lift his team ahead of Sunday's trip to Getafe.