Real Madrid are in desperate need of a win as they travel to league-leaders Sevilla in their Sunday La Liga clash at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium, Seville. After the embarrassing thumping from Paris Saint-Germain in the mid-week UEFA Champions League clash, Zinedine Zidane finds himself fighting for his job. As Los Blancos stand well behind the top-four, a win is quintessential towards recharging their title-chase, but former manager Julen Lopetegui’s compact, strong Sevilla side will look to add to their misery.
Story Behind The Game
Sevilla have hit the ground running in the new season, as they’re still undefeated in all competitions in five games so far. While they’re yet to really dominate their way into a La Liga win, a sturdy back-line and effective new-signings are working a treat, allowing Julen Lopetegui to redeem himself after returning to La Liga.
Real Madrid, however, still look an extremely shaky side yet to hit that consistency which they would want to. Despite defeating Levante 3-2 last weekend, Los Blancos are dropping points right, left and centre. After the shocking showing in Paris, Zidane must work up his magic to calm the nerves of his crumbling side.
Sevilla have been a thorn in Real Madrid’s side in the recent past, having defeated them comprehensively twice in their last three meetings. While Los Blancos hold a better record over their last five meetings, Los Rojiblancos crushed them 3-0 last season, something which Zidane and co must want to enact revenge for.
Lopetegui will actually be happy to be facing this vulnerable Real Madrid side at this point of the season, as he has the perfect opportunity to pile on the pressure for the side who uncompromisingly sacked him last season. Sevilla looks a very hard nut to crack under him, much thanks to his promising set-up and clever tactics which has blown away opponents so far. With Javier Hernandez also scoring goals, Joan Jordan turning out an industrious figure and the squad looking in fine tune under him, a storm could be lying wait for Madrid.
Real Madrid will not relish the prospect of playing this steely, unpredictable Sevilla side after being humiliated by Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League. They looked a broken shell of their former selves against PSG and the fact that they haven’t won in Seville since 2015 doesn’t help at all. Zidane is under pressure of losing his job but must thrive onto that to set up his side accordingly to find and attack Sevilla’s vulnerabilities, while hoping new signing Eden Hazard, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema can churn up something spectacular together.
Sevilla doesn’t have any injury problems right now, with Lopetegui having a fully fit squad to pick from to create a nightmare for his former employers on Sunday.
On the other hand, Real Madrid can’t get enough with injuries right now. They missed a number of first-teamers against PSG and will be without Luka Modric and Marcelo, who are still recovering from injuries suffered recently. Isco and Brahmin Diaz could possibly return from their own injuries, while Marco Asensio remains permanently out after sustaining a season-ending injury before the season.
Sevilla XI: Vaclik, Navas, Carlos, Carrico, Escudero, Fernando, Banega, Jordan, Vasquez, Torres, Hernandez.
Real Madrid XI: Courtois, Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Mendy, Casemiro, Kroos, James, Bale, Hazard, Benzema.
Eden Hazard vs Jesus Navas
Eden Hazard hasn’t really had the dream welcoming he probably had envisioned at Real Madrid, but it’s time for him to prove his worth. The big-money signing from Chelsea is packed with potential to change games for Real Madrid and must win it for them on Sunday. He faces the combative Jesus Navas, who will cause problems with his tough-tackling attitude. Hazard must use his majestic skill and dribbling ability to break through Sevilla’s rigid defence. He needs to create a good partnership with Benzema to get in among goals, as he’ll need to bring his A-game to give his coach some relief after the weekend.
Joan Jordan vs Toni Kroos
Joan Jordan’s proving to be a cunning buy from Sevilla this summer, as he’s already scored two match-winning goals to virtually win them six points in La Liga so far. A versatile midfielder with the defensive aptitude to crackdown midfielders, he’s also showcased his attacking wit by moving into promising positions, taking impressive shots on target and acting as the engine for Sevilla. Toni Kroos will probably aim to cut his wings, but must remain alert to stop the unpredictable centre-midfielder. The German has many tricks in his distribution arsenal but must prove his defensive ability by neutralizing Jordan or risk seeing him waltz dangerous attempt at the shaky Thibaut Courtois’ goal.