Real Madrid may be enjoying another excellent European campaign, reaching a third consecutive Champions League final, but domestic performances have been a disappointment for Los Blancos, as they trail league leaders Barcelona by 15 points and have put up a limp title defence in 2017/18.
While Real have had Europe to distract from their arch rivals sealing domestic success, Sevilla have had to endure a disappointing season with little redemption and could be set for their worst league finish in five years. They could miss out on European football altogether next season and will be hoping for a better result than the reverse of this fixture, when they lost 5-0.
Barcelona have proved an obstacle to both sides, beating Real Madrid to the league and beating Sevilla in the Copa Del Rey final. They’re left playing for pride now really, with Real aiming to beat local rivals Atletico Madrid to second place and Sevilla targeting a return to Europa League football.
Sevilla hadn’t won for nine games in all competitions before a narrow 1-0 win over Real Sociedad last time out. Things haven’t gone to plan for Sevilla since March, falling from fifth place, coupled with Champions League and Copa Del Rey defeats.
Sevilla have already suffered a couple of heavy defeats recently with the 5-0 defeat to Barcelona and a 4-0 defeat to Celta Vigo. They are in danger of their season really petering out, they could still finish as low as 12th and could be on for another heavy defeat here.
Real Madrid, by contrast, are in fine fettle, they’ve only lost twice in the league since Christmas. Barring a shock cup exit to league minnows Leganes, it’s been a pretty routine 2018 for the Galacticos.
Unfortunately, Barcelona are unbeaten this season which has opened the gap between the two sides. Real squandered a huge opportunity to spoil the party last time out as they could only muster a point against a 10-man Barcelona side.
They have stormed to some routine victories over lesser sides though including a 7-1 victory against Deportivo; and will be targeting a strong finish to the season.
The reverse fixture at the Santiago Bernabeu was a no contest really ending in a 5-0 victory for the home side. Nacho Fernandez gave his side an early lead in the third minute, with Cristiano Ronaldo adding a double to put Real 3-0 up around the half-hour mark.
The result never really looked in doubt from then on as Toni Kroos and Achraf Hakimi notched up another two before halftime. Allowing for a comfortable second half for Los Blancos as they contained the Sevilla threat to hold onto a clean sheet.
Manager Vincenzo Montella paid the price for Sevilla’s poor run of form, being removed from his position just over a week ago. He was replaced with popular former Sevilla manager Joaquín Caparrós who is still looking for his best side after just one game in charge.
Caparrós made five changes for his first line-up and could ring in more changes now that he’s had more opportunity to assess his side. Former Manchester City star Jesus Navas also joined Simon Kjaer and Sebastien Corchia on the injury list this week.
Madrid superstar Ronaldo is expected to miss this fixture and maybe the rest of the season with a Malleolar injury, in the hopes he’ll be fit for the Champions League final. The game will also likely come too soon for Daniel Carvajal, who is close to a return but will again likely be rested with the more significant fixture in mind.
Other than that Zinedine Zidane will have his entire squad to call upon and should name a full strength side.
Sevilla (4-2-3-1): Layún, Mercado, Lenglet, Escudero, N’Zonzi, Banega, Sarabia, Correa, Nolito, Sandro
Real Madrid (4-3-3): Nacho, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo, Modric, Casemiro, Kroos, Bale, Benzema, Kovacic
Real Madrid have been slowing down a bit as the season draws to a close and haven’t scored more than two goals for their last five games. They have also been held twice in that period although it was by Atletico Madrid and Barcelona respectively.
Still, Sevilla enjoyed an immediate bounce under the new manager and have the talent to cause an upset against a Madrid side with one eye on Europe. Caparrós is the fourth manager to arrive since Unai Emery departed in 2016 as the club are still searching for some consistency.
The Spanish tactician could put himself in good stead to lead the team into the next campaign with an impressive result in this fixture.
Prediction: Sevilla 2-2 Real Madrid