Real Madrid head into Saturday’s home encounter with Sevilla 16 points off the top of La Liga and surely with at least one eye on Wednesday Champions League last-16 first-leg encounter with Manchester United.
Last weekend’s 1-0 loss to Granada was the latest blow in what has been a bitterly disappointing defense of the league crown they reclaimed last season. It was their fifth defeat of the campaign. All have come away from home.
At the Bernabeu it has been a very different story. Madrid are undefeated at their famed arena since January 18 last year, giving them the longest such record in Europe’s top seven leagues.
Yet, the focus for some time now for Los Blancos has surely been on claiming an historic 10th Champions League crown. That quest resumes in midweek with their clash against the Premier League leaders.
Despite that match so prominent on the horizon, midfielder Luka Modric has said that pride dictates that the side will put everything into getting a victory over Sevilla.
“I expect a good match, the crowd will enjoy it and will be a good final test before the match against Manchester United,” he said, according to Real Madrid’s official website.”We are Real Madrid, we have to try to win every match and show what we are capable of.”
Madrid will be striving to avoid an unwelcome double, with Sevilla one of the teams to inflict a defeat on them to derail their early season form.
Sevilla’s own results soon took a downward turn after that win, as they struggled for much of the campaign. Things have picked up since Unai Emery took over last month, though, with two wins and a draw from their three La Liga matches under his charge.
Emery will be without the injured Cicinho and Andres Palop, while Ivan Rakitic is suspended.
For Madrid, Pepe is back in the squad, though may be saved for midweek. Raphael Varane and Iker Casillas will be missing through injury.
Real Madrid (probable)
D: Arbeloa, Ramos, Carvalho, Coentrao
M: Khedira, Modric
Di Maria, Ozil, Ronaldo
D: Coke, Fazio, Spahic, Navarro
M: Kondogbia, Medel
Navas, Moral, Reyes
Prediction: Much will depend on the mindset of Madrid’s players and the team selection of Jose Mourinho. There may be one or two changes with the Manchester United match in mind. Madrid’s strength at home should ensure a certain level of performance, but Sevilla have been much improved of late and could well come away with a point.
Real Madrid 2-2 Sevilla
Where to watch: The La Liga match will kick-off from the Bernabeu at 4 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by beIN Sport. A live stream, which you view at your own discretion, will be available here.