Real Madrid vs Sevilla
The big guns of Spanish football were sunning themselves in Saudi Arabia last week for the Supercopa. But now it’s back to business on home soil.
Saturday’s big La Liga match between Real and Sevilla will pit second against fourth. It’s an opportunity for Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid to keep the pressure up on Barcelona at the top, and a chance for Sevilla to close the gap between themselves and Real to just two points.
A former Los Blancos boss also has a point to prove. Sevilla head coach Julen Lopetegui was sacked after less than six months at the Santiago Bernabeu, but he’s doing a good job in Seville. Los Palanganas are going along nicely in the league and Copa del Rey, as well as in Europe.
This is a big test for Zidane’s team.
Supercopa winners have sights set on La Liga
Los Blancos have already picked up the first silverware of the Spanish season, winning the Supercopa by beating Atletico Madrid on penalties in the heat of Saudi Arabia.
After Los Rojiblancos had much the better of 120 goalless minutes, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and captain Sergio Ramos were the heroes as Real won the penalty shootout 4-1, with the skipper slamming home the winner.
And Ramos’ partner in the centre of defence has also been doing the business at the other end of the pitch. Real Madrid ended a run of draws with a win over Getafe, and Raphael Varane had a hand in two of the goals.
The French defender put the Getafe goalkeeper under pressure leading to an own goal and then he planted a powerful header home to make it two.
But if Real Madrid are to stop Barcelona from making it three domestic titles on the bounce, then they need their strikers to do their bit. Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale were both absent in the Supercopa win but are in with a chance of returning on Saturday.
Benzema, with 12 goals, has carried the scoring burden on his shoulders for the last two seasons, and fans will hope a hamstring injury won’t keep him out for too long.
Julen’s unfinished business
Julen Lopetegui’s time in Seville has been a period of redemption for the former national team coach. The Sevilla boss had a rough time as head coach of Los Blancos at the beginning of the 2018/19 season and was sacked after a humiliating defeat at the hands of Barcelona.
But the Seville board has given him another chance and haven’t been regretting their decision. His side has won Group A of the Europa League in impressive style, only losing to Apoel after winning the first five matches to take the group by storm.
Los Palanagas are also through to the third round of the Copa del Rey after hammering Escobedo 0-5 with five players on the score sheet. The front three of Luuk de Jong, Nolito and Lucas Ocampos were all on target, as were Franco Vazquez and Oliver Torres.
Skippered by former Manchester City star Jesus Navas, this is a team with plenty of attacking threat, as well as some bite. Midfield enforcer Fernando has picked up eight yellow cards so far and he’ll have his sights set on Los Blancos’ supply line to their forwards.
The historic La Liga 2020 results between Real and Sevilla make good reading for Madrid fans; of the 57 games played since 1993, Los Blancos have won 37 to Sevilla’s 16 and there have been just four draws.
In more recent times, the omens are even better for the hosts. Real won a tight game by 0-1 in Sevilla back in September, and won the last meeting at the Santiago Bernabeu by 2-0 in January 2019.
Real Madrid have not lost to Sevilla in their last 12 encounters at home and have a home record this season of six wins and three draws.
Both teams are in decent form, having won two and drawn two of the last four games.
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