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Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Sevilla

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Photo by JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images

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.

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Features

Three takeaways from Real Madrid 3-2 Barcelona | La Liga

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Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

Jude Bellingham stunned the Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys when Real Madrid met Barcelona last year in La Liga with a stunning brace including a stoppage-time winner.

Last night, once again, he came up clutch to give his side all three points against the same opposition in stoppage time.

The 90 minutes at the Santiago Bernabeu were far from easy for Real Madrid, especially with Barcelona dominating parts of the game and creating good chances in the final third.

However, the dressing room was clear about their objective from the get-go, and nothing, it appeared, could make them take their eyes off the target. After a valiant 90-minute battle, the scoreboard read 3-2 in Real Madrid’s favour.

Madrid Universal brings you three talking points from Real Madrid’s emphatic El Clasico win.

Two gems shine bright

Coming off a difficult 120-minute shift against Manchester City midweek, it was always going to take a herculean effort from the Real Madrid dressing room to find a way past Barcelona.

After all, the team were far from their best from a physical standpoint, and Carlo Ancelotti’s rotations on the night reiterated the same.

While the eventual 3-2 win was possible only courtesy of a comprehensive team effort with contributions from all over the field, two players impressed in particular – Jude Bellingham and Lucas Vazquez.

The right-back was Real Madrid’s best player on the night, constantly creating pressure and threats in the Barcelona area. Playing down the right flank, he dominated Barcelona star Joao Cancelo and made the wing his own.

Vazquez won Real Madrid the penalty that helped them get back into the game after an early setback and did so with fine trickery on the edge of the area. Eventually, Barcelona’s young Pau Cubarsi was forced to make contact and bring the dynamic full-back down.

When Real Madrid went down a goal once more, Vazquez timed his run into the box with perfection to get onto the end of Vinicius Jr’s cross and slam it in the first time.

If his goal and assist were not enough to cap off a special display, it was Vazquez’s pass in the dying minutes of the game that created the opening for the team’s winning goal.

Bellingham, meanwhile, significantly stepped up from his recent lean patch and effectively dictated Real Madrid’s play in the final third. In addition to scoring the game-changing winner, he completed two key passes, 100% of his dribbles and four accurate long balls on the night.

A team with elite mentality

Elite mentality. (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images)

Only Real Madrid can pull off the comebacks they have in the last week, especially given the special circumstances surrounding each game.

The clash against Pep Guardiola’s side midweek was the most gruelling 120 minutes of football Los Blancos have played all year. Despite being dominated for the most part, they came out clutch and defended valiantly to pull through on penalties.

Last night, still sore from their overtime duty on Wednesday, Real Madrid faced a stiff challenge against a relatively fresh Barcelona. The game, once again, showed why they boast of a mentality as elite as it gets.

Los Blancos went behind twice on the night, yet pulled back the deficit on both occasions to level the scores. A draw was a good enough result for Ancelotti’s men as it would give them a good lead ahead of the final six games in La Liga.

Having played the 90 minutes against Barcelona, the men in white could well have defended deep and settled for a draw. That, after all, would be the natural reaction of any weary party.

Yet, they pushed high and hard for a winner. With a draw in hand and the title in their grasp, they still gunned on for a win and were rewarded with Jude Bellingham’s clutch goal.

Is there a more mentally resilient team in the world? Probably not.

League in the bag

Having secured the critical win over Barcelona, the full-time whistle last night saw celebrations like none other.

Emotions poured out on the Real Madrid bench with players clenching their fists and pumping them into the air. The stadium chanted the chorus in unison, for they too knew what the result meant.

Three points secured against the second-placed team now take Real Madrid a staggering 11 points clear of Barcelona on the standings. Only six games remain to be played in La Liga, and the Merengues would have to lose four of them to let go of the title now.

Thus, for all practical purposes, Real Madrid are the champions of Spain. It may take a few more weeks for the accolade to be mathematically and officially theirs, but one can rely on the group to ensure that there are no slip-ups between now and the day the title is theirs.

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