The record breaking run finally ended as Sevilla struck late with two goals to beat Real Madrid 2-1 at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium on Sunday.
Real Madrid visited the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium yet again on Sunday night, after dramatically drawing Sevilla 3-3 at their home ground only on Thursday in a late comeback. This time around though, there was no joy for Zinedine Zidane’s men as they surrendered their lead to lose 2-1 to Los Nervionenses.
The chances came few and far between in the first set, with Sevilla testing Keylor Navas only once, through a Samir Nasri shot, while the visitors saw Cristiano Ronaldo bring out a comfortable save from his shot by Sergio Rico.
Sevilla began the second half much brighter, coming close through Franco Vazquez and Wissam Ben Yedder’s shots with Navas coming to Real Madrid’s rescue. But the visitors got a sniff into the match as Dani Carvajal was brought down in the Sevilla box by Rico.
Cristiano Ronaldo struck from the spot, after a moment of controversy, to break the deadlock and set Real Madrid on their way to victory. Sampaoli’s men though, fought on in search of an equaliser and pulled things level after Sergio Ramos headed the ball into his own net from Pablo Sarabia’s free kick.
With just five minutes left in the match, it was anybody’s game and Sevilla grabbed the decisive chance with just a few moments left in the game as Stevan Jovetic curled his shot past Navas to complete the comeback and bring about an end to Real Madrid’s unbeaten streak.
The Hard Tackle takes a look at the talking points as Sevilla condemned Real Madrid to their first loss of the 2016/17 season.
Bidding Goodbye To The Record Breaking Unbeaten Run
Barcelona’s captivating unbeaten run in 2015 started post a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Sevilla, and it is Los Nervionenses who have brought Real Madrid’s unbeaten run in 2017 to a grinding halt, with another 2-1 victory over the Spanish giants.
It was a run that captured imaginations, as Real Madrid embarked on 40-game unbeaten streak that began in April 2016. What’s so remarkable about Real Madrid’s unbeaten streak is that they won their 11th Champions League title along the way, and mounted a late, albeit failed, run towards winning the La Liga last season.
Sevilla end Real Madrid’s 40-match unbeaten run! 💥 pic.twitter.com/E9ToqM21nQ
— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) January 15, 2017
This season, they had been run close to ending the run, as Los Blancos rallied to beat Deportivo La Coruna and draw Barcelona late into the respective matches, before the 3-3 draw at Sevilla last week where they came from two goals down to keep their run alive.
The second match in a week against Jorge Sampaoli’s men was going to be their toughest test yet, as Sevilla had won all but one game at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium this season. And the hosts’ fighting spirit came through, as Sevilla came from a goal down in the last ten minutes and stop Real Madrid from making it 41 games unbeaten.
So, Zinedine Zidane’s side may have failed to catch up to Juventus’ record of the longest unbeaten run of a side from the Top 5 leagues in Europe, but they did gain a lot of admirers along the way.
Sevilla Right In The Mix To Win La Liga
Jorge Sampaoli’s appointment at the helm at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium was met with mixed sentiments. While some greeted his arrival with a lot of optimism, there were many who were skeptical and wondered if the former Chile coach would be able to transition from internationals to club football successfully.
So far this season, Sampaoli has shown that he can not only do what is expected of him, but turn things around in style. Los Nervionenses managed to qualify from the group stages of the UEFA Champions League for the first time since the 2009/10 season.
Sevilla’s last 26 #LaLiga home games:
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 15, 2017
However, it is La Liga in particular where the Argentine has managed to influence Sevilla’s rise to being considered as one of the more dangerous opponents to face up against. And it is at home, where they have been the toughest to get over, winning seven of the eight games before hosting Real Madrid.
The win over Madrid made it eight wins in nine at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium, and that also meant that they leapfrogged Barcelona into second place in the La Liga table, just a point behind Real Madrid (although Zidane’s side has a game in hand), throwing the title race wide open.
Sevilla are genuine contenders for the La Liga title this season, and it will be interesting to see whether they can sustain the title challenge during the second half of the league season.
Zidane’s System Change Backfires
Zinedine Zidane has taken Spanish and European football by storm since being appointed as the Real Madrid boss in January 2015. The loss to Sevilla was his third as the manager of Real Madrid, which shows just how well he has taken to life in management.
The one thing that has defined his reign as a manager so far is that Zidane had seldom strayed from a set style of football, employing the 4-3-3 as a trusted formation, giving his three attackers the freedom to express themselves and banking on the creativity of Toni Kroos and Luka Modric and the defensive acumen of Casemiro from midfield.
Real Madrid’s defeat to Sevilla is the first time they’ve lost to a Spanish team away from home under Zinedine Zidane. 😳 pic.twitter.com/UoI8HsvVG9
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 15, 2017
However, on Sunday Zidane did exactly the opposite of that, employing a 3-5-2 formation, with Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane and Nacho as his centre-backs, and just Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema as the attacking outlets.
The change backfired as Real Madrid attacking output was limited, even though they restricted Sevilla’s attack as well. However, they rarely tested Sergio Rico in the Sevilla goal, ultimately suffering the consequences after Sevilla struck with two late goals to lose 2-1.
Homecoming Week Turns Sour For Ramos
Sergio Ramos had enjoyed an exciting return to Sevilla on Thursday night, as he struck a penalty to kickstart Real Madrid’s comeback, and send a telling message to the fans at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium who jeered his every touch and even hurled profanities at his family.
The homecoming week continued for the Real Madrid captain on Sunday, as Los Blancos looked to re-establish their five-point gap on top of the table, and Ramos looked assured all through the night, denying the Sevilla attack much sniff at goal.
1 – Sergio Ramos has scored his first own-goal in La Liga. Sevilla. pic.twitter.com/nmqsHzUqud
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) January 15, 2017
However, with just five minutes of regulation time left to play, the assuredness turned into horror, as Ramos headed the ball past Keylor Navas to score his first own goal in La Liga, and trigger a Sevilla comeback that ended Real Madrid’s historic run.
Ramos would like to put this disappointment behind him now as the fight for the La Liga title gets closer than ever, with the season entering its most crucial phase.
Sampaoli Gets His Substitutions Spot On
Sevilla looked dead and buried, with Madrid’s formation change not letting Sampaoli’s side play at their expressive best despite being the better of the two sides for large parts of the match. However, the Sevilla manager made decisive, bringing on Pablo Sarabia for Vincente Iborra and new signing Stevan Jovetic for Franco Vazquez.
As Sevilla threw the kitchen sink and more towards Real Madrid, they got closer and closer to grabbing the crucial equaliser, and their efforts were rewarded as Sarabria’s searching free kick into the Real Madrid box was met by Sergio Ramos who scored the own goal.
Stevan Jovetic’s week:
– 10th: Joins Sevilla 📝
– 12th: Scores on his debut ⚽️
– 15th: Ends Real Madrid’s 40-game unbeaten run ✅ pic.twitter.com/7sgnKutDvh
— SPORF (@Sporf) January 15, 2017
As Los Nervionenses saw things swinging in their favour, they grabbed the initiative with both hands as Jovetic superbly curled the ball past Keylor Navas, rounding off the dramatic comeback and score his second goal in as many games against Real Madrid.
This was another example where Sampaoli stood out for his tactical astuteness and this time it resulted in a highly popular victory over a team they can claim to be equal to.