Real Madrid will be on the lookout for their fifth victory of the 2018-19 La Liga season, when they take on Sevilla on Wednesday night.
Real Madrid will look to maintain their unbeaten start to the La Liga campaign, when they travel to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan to take on Pablo Machin’s Sevilla.
Real sit second in the standings, level on points with arch-rivals and league leaders Barcelona after five matches. The reigning European champions narrowly defeated Espanyol 1-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu this past weekend to continue their solid start to the new season.
However, they have failed to win on any of their last four trips to Sevilla across all competitions, losing three of those games. And manager Julen Lopetegui will be hoping to buck that trend and lead his side to a victory at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
The 2018-19 season has been a bit of a mixed bag for Sevilla. Having suffered a dull start to the campaign that saw them win just one of their first four La Liga games, the Andalusian outfit have turned things around brilliantly over the last ten days.
Machin’s side thrashed Standard Liege 5-1 in the UEFA Europa League last week, which was followed up by a 6-2 demolition of Levante in the La Liga this past weekend. And they will be hoping to carry that momentum against Real and notch up another victory.
Team News & Tactics
The home team will go into the game without the services of defenders Gabriel Mercado and Sergio Escudero, while the defensive midfield duo of Ibrahim Amadou and Maxime Gonalons are sidelined as well.
Machin prefers a system with a three-man backline, with attack-minded wing-backs offering width at the top of the pitch. Tomas Vaclik is a definite starter between the sticks for Sevilla. The three-man defence is likely to consist of the experienced Simon Kjaer, alongside Sergi Gomez and one of the goalscorers from the last game, Daniel Carrico.
Club captain and former Manchester City star Jesus Navas will slot in as the wing-back on the right side, while there could be a change on the opposite flank, with youngster Guilherme Arana set to replace former Barcelona man Aleix Vidal.
Roque Mesa, who did not start at the weekend, should return to provide solidity in the middle of the park, with Franco Vazquez likely to make way. Argentine midfielder Ever Banega and former Real Madrid academy man Pablo Sarabia will look to provide the creative influence from the centre for the home team.
Wissam Ben Yedder is in sensational form, scoring five goals in the last two games, including a hat-trick against Levante over the weekend. He is a certain starter at the top. Portuguese international Andre Silva, on loan from AC Milan, has scored four in five matches and is expected to partner the Frenchman at the top.
Probable Starting XI (3-5-2): Vaclik; Carrico, Kjaer, Gomez; Navas, Sarabia, Mesa, Banega, Arana; Silva, Ben Yedder;
Spanish playmaker Isco is the biggest absentee for Real Madrid, as he misses out due to appendicitis, while first-choice right-back Dani Carvajal will also be unavailable with an injury. Lopetegui rested a number of regulars for the win against Espanyol and changes will be in the offing for the trip to Sevilla.
Summer signing Thibaut Courtois, named the Best Goalkeeper of the year by FIFA earlier this week, is likely to continue between the sticks for Los Blancos, ahead of Keylor Navas. Alvaro Odriozola will continue at right-back in Carvajal’s absence, while Marcelo is in line for a recall at left-back, with Nacho set to make way.
Captain Sergio Ramos and World Cup winner Raphael Varane will start in the middle of the back four and will look to keep a lid on the in-form Sevilla strikeforce.
The newly crowned Best Player of the Year, Luka Modric, is set to retain his spot in the middle of the park for Real. Brazilian international Casemiro will hold on to his spot at the base of the midfield, while German pass master Toni Kroos should come into the team in place of Dani Ceballos for Wednesday’s fixture.
Star man Gareth Bale is a certainty to start out on the right-flank after being rested in the last game. Marco Asensio, who scored the only goal against Espanyol, will be retained on the opposite wing, while Karim Benzema will once again spearhead the attack, despite a shoddy display at the weekend.
Probable Starting XI (4-3-3): Courtois; Odriozola, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Bale, Benzema, Asensio;
- No team has won more La Liga away games against Sevilla than Real Madrid (23, level with Barcelona).
- Sevilla have won their last three league games against Real Madrid at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. The last time they won four or more consecutive La Liga games against them was in January 1958 (five).
- Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos has scored seven goals against Sevilla in all competitions, four of them were headers. He has scored more goals against his former team than versus any other side in his professional career.
- Sevilla manager Pablo Machin has won one and lost another of his only two meetings with Real Madrid in La Liga, conceding seven goals in total.
- Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has played more La Liga away games without scoring against Sevilla than versus any other side (seven, alongside Villarreal).
Player to watch
Gareth Bale (Real Madrid)
The Welsh wing-wizard has really come into own this season under the new management of Lopetegui. So far in his six appearances across all competitions, Bale has bagged four goals already and has set up three more for his teammates as well.
The 29-year old has been directly involved in a goal in each of his four league appearances in the ongoing campaign and after being rested for the weekend’s victory over Espanyol, he will be raring to go and continue his excellent start to the season at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
Sevilla 2-3 Real Madrid
Sevilla have scored 11 goals in their last two competitive fixtures and have netted 10 in the La Liga so far – third best tally in the competition, with only Barcelona (16) and Real Madrid (12) scoring more than them. With two of the top three goalscoring units in action on Wednesday, goals are a guarantee on the night.
The hosts will be brimming with confidence after their 6-2 thrashing of Levante this past weekend. But Real Madrid will provide a much sterner test than either of their last two opponents.
Given Sevilla’s poor home record this season, where they are without a victory in the league and Madrid’s unbeaten start to the season, we at the Hard Tackle expect Lopetegui’s side to come out on top in an action-packed encounter.