Real Madrid can take a huge step towards the La Liga title if they defeat Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium on Sunday.

Spanish giants Real Madrid travel to Sevilla on Sunday in a game that could have huge implications on both teams’ ambitions for the La Liga campaign.

Los Blancos are currently top of the Spanish top flight and have a sizable lead over their opponents. It could rise to 15 points should Carlo Ancelotti’s men prevail this weekend. While they will still have played more games than the chasing pack, it could prove pivotal given the handful of matches left in the season.

Real Madrid are coming off the back of a thrilling 2-3 loss at home to defending European champions Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League. Despite the loss, the Merengues secured themselves a spot in the last four of the competition and will be keen to get back to winning ways.

Sevilla, for their part, have punched above their weight this season and for a time were in contention for the title. They have fallen away since and now face a fight on their hands to keep hold of a top-four spot. Julen Lopetegui’s side currently sit in the third position in La Liga, with a three-point lead over fifth-placed Real Betis. While Sevilla have a game in hand, that could count for nought should they lose to Real Madrid.

Los Nervionenses have not finished higher than fourth in La Liga since 2009, and securing at least the third spot will be a huge achievement. Unbeaten at home and boasting of a fine record at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Sevilla will welcome Real, who have the best away record in the league this season.

It promises to be an intriguing game between two sides who can turn up the heat on their day. The Hard Tackle looks at how both sides could line up on the night and what tactics we might expect from them.

Team News & Tactics

Sevilla

Julen Lopetegui has some concerns this weekend with Karim Rekik, Fernando and Suso all ruled out due to injuries. The game will also come too soon for Thomas Delaney, who continues to recover from a calf injury. Sevilla are recovering following a poor run of results that saw them fall away from the La Liga title race.

With a top-four finish on offer, the Andalusians finally appear to have rediscovered their winning habit. As the lone La Liga side that is unbeaten at home in the league this season, Sevilla certainly pack a punch and will be keen to take the game to Real Madrid. They will be expected to start in a 4-2-3-1 formation that will be keen to pin Real back and negate their ability on the counter.

Lopetegui is likely to deploy Yassine Bounou in goal behind a back four of Jesus Navas, Jules Kounde, Diego Carlos and Marcos Acuna. Nemanja Gudelj and Joan Jordan will be tasked with playing the role of a double anchor and winning the battle in midfield.

Lucas Ocampos and Jesus Corona will be tasked with causing havoc fro the wings and will start on either side of Ivan Rakitic in an attacking midfielder’s capacity. The trio will look to supply star striker Youssef En-Nesyri, who looks set to lead the line.

Sevilla certainly have a side that is not just dogged but also has the technical prowess to hurt Real. As long as they turn up on the night, Carlo Ancelotti’s side are likely to be in for a tough game. With Anthony Martial, Rafa Mir and Erik Lamela in their ranks, the hosts have options to surprise Real. Just how Lopetegui plans to use his resources remains to be seen.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Bounou; Navas, Kounde, Carlos, Acuna; Jordan, Gudelj; Corona, Rakitic, Ocampos; En-Nesyri

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Real Madrid

Carlos Ancelotti has concerns of his own and will be without several key players on the night. Eden Hazard, Ferland Mendy, Marcelo and Luka Jovic will all miss out thanks to injuries. The Spanish giants will also be without midfield enforcer Casemiro who is suspended for the game. To add to their woes, Dani Ceballos and Jesus Vallejo are recovering from COVID-19.

Karim Benzema and Nacho also are nursing niggling knocks but have been cleared to play. The former’s availability will be a shot in the arm for Los Blancos given his importance to their fortunes.

Ancelotti looks set to start his side in a 4-3-3 freely flexible formation. Thibaut Courtois will start in goal behind a back four of Lucas Vazquez, Eder Militao, Davide Alaba and Nacho.

Toni Kroos will start in the middle of the pitch and will look to provide a solid base for Luka Modric and Eduardo Camavinga to work their magic going forward. The frontline will be led by Benzema who will spearhead a front three also consisting of Junior Vinicius and Rodrygo.

Ancelotti’s men are lethal on the counter and will look to punish Sevilla for any half measure. Benzema’s ability to not just stretch opposition defences, but also bring his other teammates into play could prove pivotal.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Courtois; Vazquez, Militao, Alaba, Nacho; Modric, Kroos, Camavinga; Rodrygo, Benzema, Vinicius

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Key Stats

  • Sevilla are currently unbeaten at home and have secured 37 points from 15 games at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan this season in La Liga. They remain the only undefeated side at home in the Spanish top flight this season.
  • Real Madrid have the best away record in La Liga this season, winning 11 of their 15 games away from the Santiago Bernabeu. They have also outscored other La Liga teams on their travels and possess the second-best defence among visiting teams.
  • Sevilla have failed to defeat Real Madrid in any of their last six La Liga matches. This is their worst run against Los Blancos since the abysmal return of two draws and 13 defeats across a 15-game spell between 1993 to 2003.
  • Real Madrid could become the third team in La Liga history to win three consecutive games away to Sevilla without conceding a single goal.
  • Real Madrid are currently on a seven game-winning run against teams from Andalusia, their best return against teams from the region.

Player to Watch

Karim Benzema

Bale and Benzema have been crucial to Real Madrid's success in the last decade (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images)

Benzema has been crucial to Real Madrid’s success this season. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images)

The French veteran has been Real Madrid’s talisman this season and continues to make the difference for Los Blancos on the field. Benzema, at 34 continues to rake in the goals and has a prolific record of 38 goals and 13 assists in 38 games across all competitions so far.

He starred for Real at Stamford Bridge last week before scoring the decisive goal in the return leg against Chelsea a few days ago. The Frenchman cannot be afforded any space in the penalty area and could punish Sevilla should they appear lax. Jules Kounde and Diego Carlos will have their hands full in keeping the Real Madrid legend quiet on the night.

Prediction

Sevilla 2-1 Real Madrid

With much on the line, both sides have a lot to play for and it promises to be an intriguing contest. Sevilla’s home advantage is negated not just by Real’s fearlessness on the road but also the upper hand they hold in terms of player quality.

The sooner they can secure the La Liga title, the quicker Carlo Ancelotti’s team can turn their attention to the UEFA Champions League. Los Blancos will be keen to get back to winning ways and will look to hit Sevilla on the counter. However, given the injury concerns in the visitors’ ranks, Sevilla could just about edge the game over the course of 90 minutes.

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