Real Madrid’s patchy league form will be tested once again this weekend when they face Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on Saturday night (9pm BST).
Of course, the big talking point is Cristiano Ronaldo and his ‘unhappiness’ at Real Madrid. I’m far from convinced that the player is completely unhappy with life at the Bernabeu.
He has the opportunity for many trophies both domestically and in European competition, and the surrounding cast, including manager Jose Mourinho, is of the highest quality.
The whole issue hits a little closer to home with Ronaldo, however. The player wants to know he’s highly valued at the club and by the wider footballing world for his contributions. It didn’t help that Barcelona’s Spaniards were openly applauded by Real Madrid staff recently. The fact that he hasn’t broken into the top five highest earners in the game is also affecting his ego.
Away from that, Jose Mourinho does look to have a full squad to choose from, a mild comfort considering the opposition in Andalusia.
I expect Gonzalo Higuain to be given the nod ahead of Karim Benzema in this game. The Argentine striker has been in good form for Madrid so far this season, and Mourinho will surely want to further reward his good work and commitment to staying with the club this past summer.
Luka Modric also seems to be integrating well. As mentioned before, he almost scored on his debut against Barcelona in the Super Cup and started the match against Granada. It’s still quite clear that Mesut Ozil operates in the advanced midfield role better than the Croatian at this point. For that, the German is likely to start against Sevilla.
The centre-back partnership is also back to full force, as Pepe rejoined the squad over the last two games following his injury. If anything, the Portuguese’s return to the defence means Madrid will be much better prepared for the threats of Sevilla.
Remember, Michael Essien is also in the Real Madrid line up. His one-year loan from Chelsea means there is added strength and defensive awareness in the midfield.
Sevilla manager Michel is without a number of players ahead of this game, notably Jose Reyes and Diego Perotti.
Diego Lopez, a summer signing from relegated Villarreal, will be back in goal following suspension. Gary Medel, a real pitbull of a midfielder, will be operating in the centre of the pitch. The Chilean international will look to unsettle the creative players in the Madrid team and he’s more than capable of frustrating one or two individuals.
But the key men for Sevilla are striker Alvaro Negredo and winger Jesus Navas.
It’s notable that Navas played a much bigger part in Spain’s Euro 2012 victory than his teammate. But the striker has two goals to his name so far in the league and Navas’ pace will be a real problem for Real Madrid down their left hand side. A key point from that: Fabio Coentrao, the defensive-minded left-back for Madrid, is unavailable, leaving a likely start for Marcelo. Jesus Navas should find some joy down that flank.
Despite Sevilla chairman Jose Maria Del Nido leading the charge against the poor distribution of television revenue in Spain, it’s difficult to see this Sevilla team beating Real Madrid this weekend. There are obvious problems on both sides, but I’d like to think Jose Mourinho has his team well prepared for an important away trip.
Sevilla v Real Madrid Betting Tips Conclusion
- Despite Ronaldo’s troubles, he has a phenomenal record against Sevilla, scoring seven goals in his last two visits to the Sanchez Pizjuan. A long shot, but it might be worth putting a bet on Ronaldo to score a hat trick @ 10/1 with Coral, especially if he’s in the mood.
- Real Madrid are a good thing @ biggest odds of 13/20 with BetVictor to beat Sevilla.