What: Spanish La Liga
Who: Real Madrid vs Sevilla
When: Saturday 9th February, 2013, at 21:00 UK time
Where: Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain


Real Madrid’s misfortunes continued with a 1-0 defeat against Granada last weekend in La Liga. Los Blancos’ away form has been awful this season for a team of their calibre, winning just five out of twelve games on the road. This has prevented them from catching up with second-placed Atletico Madrid, who are seven points ahead of their crosstown rivals. Now, Real Madrid face Sevilla, with an eye on their midweek clash with Manchester United.

The Spanish champions could not replicate the away display they exhibited against Valencia on 20th January last weekend, falling short against Granada in a game where they could not find the answers against a side that left them little space to operate.

However, things will be easier for them at the Bernabeu, as they are undefeated in their last 22 home games in the Spanish league. Furthermore, they have won five out of their last six games against Sevilla, and will certainly hold the mental advantage over their opponents, even if the last meeting between the pair ended on a sour note last September when Sevilla prevailed 1-0.

This will be a special occasion for goalkeeper Diego Lopez, who faces the club he transferred from at the end of January. However, Jose Mourinho has some defensive headaches as Pepe and Raphael Varane will miss this one and their coach will hope to have them back on Wednesday against the Red Devils.

Three In A Row

Sevilla will be hoping to extend their winning La Liga streak to three consecutive games as they travel to the Bernabeu, aiming upset Real Madrid, knowing that their hosts are having their fair share of on and off the pitch problems. However, the Andalucians have just one away league win to their name so far, dating back to 24th September when they defeated Deportivo La Coruna 2-0.

The numbers do not favour the 2010 Copa del Rey winners, as they are winless in their last eight games in the league. Real Madrid will naturally be favourites on the night, but club defender Coke insisted that his team fancy their chances. “It is not impossible [to win against Real Madrid], but it is very difficult, even more so at their own venue.

"They come from a bad result and will not want to lose in front of their own fans, but we are feeling good, we have been winning games at home, and we produced a very good showing at the [Vicente] Calderon [against Atletico Madrid]. Let's try it, why not?” explained the former Rayo Vallecano youth-teamer.

Sevilla will be missing some of their key men for this, but perhaps no one’s absence will be more critical than that of Ivan Rakitic. The Croatian has been a key member of the first-team so far, but will have to miss this one out as a result of an accumulated number of yellow cards.

Recent form

Real Madrid:
Real Madrid 4-0 Getafe (27/01; La Liga)
Real Madrid 1-1 Barcelona (30/01; Copa del Rey)
Granada 1-0 Real Madrid (02/02; La Liga)

Sevilla 3-0 Granada (28/01; La Liga)
Atletico Madrid 2-1 Sevilla (31/01; Copa del Rey)
Sevilla 2-1 Rayo Vallecano (03/02; La Liga)

Key absences

Real Madrid: Iker Casillas; Raphael Varane; Pepe; Xabi Alonso (doubt)

Sevilla: Diego Perotti; Piotr Trochowski; Cicinho; Ivan Rakitic (suspended)

Players to watch

Real Madrid – Cristiano Ronaldo: The Portuguese star turned 28 recently and has been at times his team’s only beacon of light in a sea of disappointments. An adored figure at the Bernabeu, he will need to get his team going before facing his old side on Wednesday.

Sevilla – Alvaro Negredo: Another man that will face his old side on the night is Alvaro Negredo. The striker turned out for Real Madrid B and has had ten goals so far in the league this season. Negredo can hurt a depleted Merengue defence and will have to watched carefully.

Match Prediction

Real Madrid rarely lose in front of their own supporters, but the defeat to Granada has raised questions over their readiness to face Manchester United in a few days. The game against Sevilla comes at a crucial time, and will be a must-win bout should they want to send a message to Europe that they are ready to tackle their visitors from England. The meeting between the two sides rarely comes without a number of yellow and red cards and goals, so an exciting match is expected. At such a crucial point, Real Madrid cannot afford a slip-up. Real Madrid 3-1 Sevilla.

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