After their midweek defeat in the cup competition, Real Madrid will be itching to bounce back with a win when they face off against Sevilla in La Liga.

Real Madrid will be aiming to get back to winning ways, when they go head to head against rivals Sevilla in matchweek 20 of the 2018-19 La Liga, at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.

The Merengues were handed a shock 1-0 defeat by Leganes in the second leg of their Copa Del Rey Round of 16 tie on Wednesday night. While Real did go through to the next round on aggregate, the manner of the defeat will have hurt the team and manager Santiago Solari will be hoping for a strong reaction from his players.

Real Madrid currently sit fourth on the La Liga table, with 33 points from 19 fixtures – ten points below arch-rivals and league leaders Barcelona. And they will be hoping to cut that gap down and move into the third spot in the standings with a win on Saturday.

Sevilla too come into the game on the back of a 1-0 defeat against Athletic Bilbao in the cup competition and have won just one of their last five fixtures across all competitions (D2, L2). Pablo Machin’s side are occupying the third spot in the table, level on points with Real Madrid and will be keen on getting all three points and put some distance between themselves and Los Blancos.

Sevilla had thrashed Real 3-0 the last time the two clubs had met back in September, courtesy of an Andre Silva double, along with a goal from Wissam Ben Yedder. And Machin will be hoping for a similar outcome from the weekend’s encounter at the Bernabeu.

Tactics & Team News

Real Madrid

There were doubts over the availability of star striker Karim Benzema, but the Frenchman is expected to take the field despite having fractured a finger last week. First-choice goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has trained with the team, but is yet to return to 100% fitness, while backup option Keylor Navas is set to miss out with a groin problem.

Toni Kroos, Gareth Bale and Marco Asensio are all likely to be unavailable, but Real Madrid will be boosted by the return of Lucas Vazquez, who will be in contention after serving out his one-match ban.

Given Navas’ injury, Courtois is likely to be rushed back into action against the Andalusians on Saturday. Dani Carvajal should return at right-back after being rested in the last game, while Sergio Reguilon is expected to continue as the left-back. Sergio Ramos will replace Nacho alongside Raphael Varane at the heart of defence.

Casemiro should slot in at the base of the midfield for Real, with Marcos Llorente still not completely fit. Luka Modric and Dani Ceballos will come back into the starting XI, with Isco and Federico Valverde making way after starting against Leganes.

Vazquez should start out on the right flank for the home team, with the impressive Vinicius Junior set to feature out on left side from the kick-off. With Mariano Diaz still recovering from injury, Benzema should lead the line on Saturday, despite his broken finger.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Reguilon; Modric, Casemiro, Ceballos; Vazquez, Benzema, Vinicius;

Sevilla

Sevilla will come into the game without being able to call upon midfielder Roque Mesa, who is suspended for the tie. Maxime Gonalons is sidelined with an injury, as is Nolito. There are no other injury or suspension concerns for manager Machin coming into the blockbuster clash against Real.

Having fielded a changed side for the cup tie, the manager is expected to field his strongest XI on Saturday. Tomas Vaclik should return in goal against Real and will be shielded by a three-man backline comprising of Daniel Carrico, Simon Kjaer and Sergi Gomez.

Seasoned campaigner Jesus Navas should return to the fold as the right-sided wing-back, while Sergio Escudero will slot in on the opposite flank, with Aleix Vidal and Quincy Promes set to make way.

Ever Banega will come back into the lineup in the middle of the park after not starting the cup tie. The other two midfield slots will most likely be taken up by Franco Vazquez and Pablo Sarabia, on whose shoulders the creative responsibilities will lie.

Leading the attack for the visitors on Saturday will be the goalscorers from the last tie, Andre Silva and Wissam Ben Yedder, with January signing Munir El Haddadi dropping to the bench.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Vaclik; Carrico, Kjaer, Gomez; Navas, Sarabia, Banega, Vazquez, Escudero; Ben Yedder, Silva;

Key Stats

  • Real Madrid and Sevilla have not drawn in their last 27 La Liga meetings, with 16 wins for the capital club and 11 for the Andalusian outfit.
  • At Santiago Bernabeu, Real Madrid have won their last nine league games against Sevilla, their best streak against them in the competition, scoring an average of 3.7 goals per game.
  • Sevilla have only collected seven La Liga points from the last 18 possible after collecting 13 of the previous 18.
  • Sevilla manager Pablo Machin has won two of his three La Liga games against Real Madrid. However, his Girona side did concede six goals in his only trip at Santiago Bernabeu in the competition (6-3 in March 2018).
  • Real Madrid have lost two of their last five league home games (W3) after being undefeated in their previous 13 (W10 D3).

Player to Watch

Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid)

The Real Deal (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)

The Real Deal (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)

The 18-year-old Brazilian wonderkid has been the standout player for Real Madrid in recent matches, when the rest of the team has been struggling to make much of an impact. Vinicius, till date, has scored two goals and set up seven more from 15 first-team appearances across all competitions.

With plenty of flair and serious pace to burn – Vinicius recorded a top speed of 34 km/h in a brilliant moment against Leganes earlier this week – the teenage sensation will be Madrid’s biggest threat in attack when they take the field against Sevilla on Saturday afternoon.

Prediction

Real Madrid 1-1 Sevilla

Both the teams are coming on the back of disappointing results. Real Madrid have come out on top in just two of their last five matches and lost out to Real Sociedad in their previous home match in the La Liga earlier this month.

Sevilla, on the other hand, have won just one of their last five matches and come into the game on the back of consecutive defeats against a struggling Athletic Bilbao outfit, once in the league and once in the cup.

With neither teams not in the best of form, we at The Hard Tackle expect the contest at the Santiago Bernabeu to end in a 1-1 stalemate on Saturday.

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