Preview: Real Madrid travel to Sevilla on Saturday looking to continue to make up for early lost ground on bitter rivals Barcelona in their fight to retain the La Liga title. Much of the buildup to the game, though, has been dominated by talk of one man--Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese forward's refusal to celebrate scoring against Granada and subsequent claims of being "sad" caused widespread speculation as to the source of the star's discontent.
But all at Real will be hoping that Ronaldo does his talking on the field at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan against a side with which he has scored eight goals in his last three appearances.
Real coach Jose Mourinho has said that there are no problems with Ronaldo.
"If he's sad and plays as he plays then that's perfect for me," he said, according to the Real Madrid website. "My responsibility as a coach is to get the results. I have responsibility for sporting performance and that is where I have to concentrate. Cristiano works at the highest level and plays at the highest level."
Mourinho also confirmed that recent loan signing Michael Essien was fit and ready to play, although it would be a major surprise should the Ghanaian displace either Sami Khedira or Xabi Alonso in the midfield.
Real will welcome the fact that all of their players have returned from the international break unscathed. The only absentee from Mourinho's squad is the suspended Fabio Coentrao.
Their opponents Sevilla look set to provide strong opposition, despite Real's recent good record in the fixture. Indeed Real have scored 12 goals in their last trips to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. But Sevilla are unbeaten through their first three games haven drawn their last two encounters. Spain international Alvaro Negredo has again started the season in fine goal-scoring form and should prove to be their chief threat.
D: Cicinho, Botia, Spahic, Navarro
M: Rakitic, Medel, Trochowski
F: Navas, Negredo, Mahu
Real Madrid (probable)
D: Arbeloa, Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo
M: Khedira, Alonso
Di Maria, Ozil, Ronaldo
Prediction: Real know they can't afford more early slip-ups if they are to avoid their five-point deficit to Barcelona being extended further. Real may not enjoy quite the ease of victory as they have here in the past two seasons, but should still do enough to come away from Andalusia with the win.
Sevilla 1-3 Real Madrid
Coverage: The match will be screened on beIN Sport. A live stream, which you view at your own discretion, is available here.