Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Sevilla
It was not very long ago that Sevilla was a superpower in La Liga. The Seville-based team were one of the regulars in European football and competed directly with the big three clubs for the La Liga title.
The 2022-23 season has not been kind to them, however, as they sit in the bottom half of the table heading into the 11th Matchday. Of their ten games so far, Los Nervionenses have won just two with four draws and four losses in the process and are in a state of desperation.
Real Madrid and Carlo Ancelotti will fancy their chances against the weakened Sevilla side and look to savour a feast. A win over Jorge Sampaoli’s men would take them six points clear of Barcelona temporarily and also be a mental boost ahead of a tight schedule of games.
Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Sevilla.
1. Thibaut Courtois’ return to action
The news of Thibaut Courtois’ sciatica setback immediately upon the restart of club football last month came as devastating news for Real Madrid. The duration of his unavailability was not known as Carlo Ancelotti sidelined the Belgian International.
Slowly, one realised that the initial prognosis was unrealistic. It was thought that Courtois would make it back in time for El Clasico, but his slow recovery meant that he missed the big clash too.
Finally, over 45 days later, the shot-stopper is ready to return to action. He will don the Real Madrid crest and step onto the turf against Sevilla in what will be his first appearance after a long hiatus.
Andriy Lunin covered well in the Belgian’s absence, with the team not losing any games during that spell. Further, he conceded only four goals in his six appearances for Ancelotti’s side, proving his value.
While the Ukrainian was impressive, it is clear that Courtois is one of the backbones of this Real Madrid side and his exclusion is unfathomable. Playing against Sevilla at Santiago Bernabeu, he will look to oversee his first league clean sheet of the year and regain his match fitness.
2. Rotations: The constant variable
Los Blancos have played two games in the last seven days and already have their next game due in a few hours. The hectic schedule ahead of the FIFA World Cup gets no easier, as they play RB Leipzig at the Red Bull Arena in three days’ time before hosting Girona next weekend.
With the schedule being as cramped as it is, the manager will have to effectively organise and manage his resources to minimise the risk of overworking and injuring any of his players.
While the defensive line could remain the same on Saturday, the midfield will certainly see multiple changes. Luka Modric is almost certain to start on the bench and one can expect Eduardo Camavinga to play in his place.
Aurelien Tchouameni was rested in the team’s last game against Elche and is likely to secure the second starting spot at Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday. The final player in midfield will likely be Toni Kroos, for Ancelotti will want at least one of his experienced stalwarts to guide the young core.
3. A chance at redemption for Marco Asensio?
Less than a year ago, Marco Asensio was a regular part of Carlo Ancelotti’s plans week in and week out. However, his antics in the summer leading to an imminent departure in the coming window, have led to his ostracisation from the team’s dynamics.
The manager has stuck firmly with a forward line featuring Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr this year, with the third starting position seeing a constant tussle between Rodrygo and Federico Valverde. The loser in the situation has been Marco Asensio, who has barely seen minutes on the turf.
Yet, one cannot deny that the player has been a pleasure to watch in the few minutes he has participated. When called upon by Ancelotti against Elche midweek, the Spaniard scored one goal, created one big chance and provided a key pass in nine minutes.
Considering Asensio’s productive cameos and his consistency when on the field, Ancelotti could be tempted to give the winger one final chance to prove himself.
It is a win-win situation for the club as they can restart talks of a contract extension if the player steps up to the occasion and maintains his level. In case Asensio fails to influence the game, Real Madrid would not stand to lose much as the situation would return to the existing scenario.
Goals, energy, leadership: Three things Bellingham can offer to Real Madrid
Real Madrid have been notoriously heavy spenders in the summer transfer market in the past but have not spent an awful lot over the last few seasons due to financial restrictions and their team finding its peak at the right time.
Real Madrid did shell out close to €100 million for Aurelien Tchouameni last year, and got Eduardo Camavinga in the summer of 2021 for around €400 million, too.
It does seem like they have a huge summer planned ahead of them, though. The club plans to splash some cash on multiple positions, including centre-forward, right-wing, central midfield, and across the defence.
Some targets are laid out for these positions, with Kylian Mbappe naturally being on the list.
However, one definite target for Madrid that’s been well-established already is Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham. His price tag is set at around €100-140 million, and Los Blancos are among the teams leading the race for his signature, alongside Manchester City and Liverpool.
The Englishman has an obviously high ceiling and is already among the best players in his position in Europe. Moreover, he adds depth across various skillsets and attributes that Real Madrid currently lack or will lack as the clock marches on.
Madrid Universal explores three different things Bellingham can bring to the table for an already talented Galacticos side.
Goals from midfield
Despite not playing an advanced role, Bellingham is a rather experienced poacher in the box. This comes with his thorough understanding of offensive routines, and timing his runs to perfection in the box.
Being 6’1″ and physically gifted, the teenager can attack crosses and passes into the box with ease. He boasts of a rather impressive leap as well, which was more than visible during the World Cup, when he opened the scoring against Iran.
Goal – JUDE BELLINGHAM— masih miness (@WorldCup__id) November 21, 2022
England 1-0 Iran (34 mins) pic.twitter.com/CkCxl45mU1
The English midfielder has scored four goals in the league for Dortmund, and has accumulated an xG of 5.25 across the season. That is nearly two more than Madrid’s highest scoring midfielder – Luka Modric.
Currently, Madrid’s goals are rather lopsidedly dependent on the forward line, with Toni Kroos and Modric just chipping in with a combined six goals in the league out of a possible 51.
While both players, and Camavinga, are adept at shooting from range, neither quite provide the box threat or the third-man runs Madrid are currently craving for.
Once Karim Benzema or Vinicius Jr are boxed out of the game, Carlo Ancelotti’s side struggle with ideas, and are often stuck in a pattern of crossing and hoping for the best.
And even with that, Bellingham could prove to be an excellent solution to their problems, coming up with late runs into the box and attacking crosses and loose balls.
Far too many times this season, Ancelotti has been criticised for using Modric and Kroos in the same midfield. Especially when their bench holds the likes of Camavinga, Dani Ceballos, and sometimes even Federico Valverde.
However, it is clear that these players have been delegated to certain roles in midfield. Camavinga and Tchouameni shuffle as pivot options, while Ceballos is called upon add more creativity in the centre of the park.
Bellingham, while far from the best ball retainer, certainly has energy and lungs for days. He can run from box to box, receive and turn in a crowded midfield, and chase the ball till the 90.
While they have Valverde in a similar mould, the Uruguayan has been tasked with running the right-wing more often than not, at least under Ancelotti. It will be interesting to see how another coach would utilise both players to their respective strengths should the transfer go through.
Long-term captaincy candidate
At 19, Bellingham has already shown signs of becoming a captain for any side he plays for, for years to come. He has donned the armband for Dortmund several times this season already, and was first awarded with it in October, becoming the youngest captain in Bundesliga history.
Currently, he holds the position of third captain for Dortmund, behind Marco Reus and Mats Hummels, but has already held the armband multiple times, including twice in the UEFA Champions League.
While Madrid have a fair few leaders in their ranks, including and not limited to the likes of Karim Benzema, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, and David Alaba, Bellingham has clearly proved that he is not only capable of taking on a leadership role, but also spearheading any side for years to come.
If all works out, the price tag of €120+ million will soon start to pale in comparison to the attributes he brings to the table alongside his unbelievably high ceiling and longevity.