Real Madrid host Sevilla at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday where they can take one more step towards capturing the La Liga Santander trophy.
Real Madrid are within touching distance. Level on points with Barcelona, having a game in hand over the Catalans, Zidane and his men are favourites for the title. Their poor goal difference compared to Barcelona, though, is a huge area of concern, which compels them to beat Barcelona’s points tally to capture the trophy.
Sevilla had a brilliant run this season and for the majority of the campaign, went toe-to-toe with Real Madrid and Barcelona in the title race only to fizzle out ultimately. Jorge Sampaoli and his men, though, can still have a say in the title race if they were to hand Los Blancos a shock defeat on Sunday.
On the other hand, a win for Sevilla would guarantee them a minimum fourth place finish in the league while piling pressure on Atletico Madrid for the third position.
We at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at the all important fixture.
Team News & Tactics
Real Madrid CF
Zinedine Zidane will continue to be without Gareth Bale who is still in the rehabilitation phase of his injury – racing against time to be in fit for the UEFA Champions League final to be played in Cardiff. However, the Frenchman has, in Isco, a player who has risen to the occasion and has the quality to cover for Bale in his absence.
Dani Carvajal is the other casualty for Zidane, which could see him field Danilo in the Spaniard’s stead. However, Nacho could well be a wild-card for the position, with the player being called upon several times this season.
The inclusion of Isco could well see Zidane deploy the Spaniard in a more withdrawn role of a trequartista with Cristiano Ronaldo joining Karim Benzema up ahead. Real Madrid need seven points from their three games to secure the trophy and Zidane will be hoping they can get maximum from the fixture to ease their pressure.
Probable Lineup ( 4-1-2-1-2 ): Navas; Danilo, Varane, Ramos, Marcelona; Casemiro; Modric, Kroos; Isco; Ronaldo, Benzema
Jorge Sampaoli will be without one of his top creators, with Pablo Sarabia serving his suspension. However, Joaquin Correa is available after having served his own suspension and could slot in for Sarabia.
Mariano is a doubt for the game but is likely to start, with Sampaoli out of options. Vicente Iborra’s potential absence could dampen the midfield as well. However, Samir Nasri will have to step up in order to make up for Iborra’s absence, if the midfielder does end up missing the match.
All eyes, though, will be on Vitolo, who has been linked with a move away from the club, with top clubs like Barcelona and Atletico Madrid interested in the player. And a good performance against their rival could pique their interest further.
Probable Lineup ( 3-4-3 ): Rico; Rami, Pareja, Lenglet; Mariano, NZonzi, Nasri, Escudero; Correa, Yedder, Vitolo
- 1. Real Madrid have not won against Sevilla in their last two matches in all competitions.
- 2. It was Sevilla who broke Real Madrid’s winning streak and then their undefeated streak with a draw in Copa del Rey and subsequently a shock 2-1 win in the league.
- 3. Dry Spell – Karim Benzema is yet to score in his last 8 appearances for Real Madrid in all competitions.
- 4. Cristiano Ronaldo on the other hand, has 7 goals in his last 5 games in all competitions.
- 5. After keeping just 1 clean sheet in the lat 15 games, Real Madrid have kept 2 clean sheets in their last 3 games.
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It was Keylor Navas’s heroics that prevented Atletico Madrid from mounting a seemingly insurmountable comeback. And if Real Madrid are to make sure they don’t drop the ball in the league, the custodian will have to be at his best.
Sevilla have shown that they can be a formidable force and are sure to carve out chances. Zidane would hope the Costa Rican international can replicate his heroics from the semi-finals second leg of the UEFA Champions League.
Real Madrid CF 3 – 1 Sevilla FC
Real Madrid cannot afford to slip up right now and even though Jorge Sampaoli and his men are not pushovers at all, Los Blancos are likely to grab a win. Both the teams are likely to be able to successful in breaking down the opposition defences.
However, Real Madrid, with the array of superstars within their ranks, are likely to be able to outscore Sevilla and take another giant step towards the La Liga tile.