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Three talking points ahead of Sevilla vs Real Madrid | La Liga

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Photo by Florencia Tan Jun/Getty Images

Real Madrid return to business on Saturday after the long international break. Back in their club colours, the players travel to Ramon Sanchez Pijzuan where they face Sevilla.

Los Nervionenses have not enjoyed a memorable start to the 2023-24 campaign to this point. Of their eight La Liga games so far, they have won just two and lost as many in the process. As a result, they hover just two points above the relegation zone.

As the leaders in La Liga, Real Madrid enter the game as clear favourites. However, history is a testament that Sevilla can never be written off. After all, they are now playing for a new manager and are unbeaten in their last two games.

Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Sevilla vs Real Madrid.

Back to defensive normalcy

Heading into their final league fixture before the international break, Carlo Ancelotti was faced with an acute defensive crisis. After all, he had David Alaba and Nacho Fernandez unavailable on the night added to Eder Militao’s absence.

The Austrian defender suffered a mild blow during Real Madrid’s clash against Las Palmas, ruling him out of action on the night. Nacho, meanwhile, was serving his suspension after seeing red against Girona.

With only Antonio Rudiger as his central defensive option, Ancelotti was forced to start Aurelien Tchouameni in a defensive role against Osasuna. As the Merengues return to action after the hiatus, however, his problems are seemingly solved.

For starters, Alaba is fit and has received the medical green light. He will, thus, start alongside Antonio Rudiger against Sevilla in what has been the manager’s first-choice defensive pairing this season.

Nacho will continue to be unavailable through suspension. However, there is good news on that front too, for the captain’s ban has been reduced by the appeals committee. With tomorrow being the last game of his ban, he will be available to feature in El Clasico this month

A special reunion

Sergio Ramos comes face to face with Real Madrid. (Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images)

Perhaps the biggest talking point ahead of Real Madrid’s clash against Sevilla is the presence of a certain special player in the opposition. One who donned the white colours for years at stretch and took the club to new heights of success.

For the first time since his departure from Real Madrid, Sergio Ramos will take to the field against his former club. The legend may be 37 years of age, but that has not stopped him from maintaining his high level on the field for Sevilla.

The veteran has played four games for Los Nervionenses since his return to the club in the summer. In La Liga, he averages 4.5 clearances, 6.5 balls recovered, two interceptions and 0.5 tackles per game and has overseen one clean sheet.

He was, in fact, phenomenal last month when Sevilla took on Barcelona and was even the best defender on the field for his side. An untimely own goal, however, derailed his night.

Notably, Ramos has even provided his first assist as a Sevilla player this season and is roaring to return to his best. As he comes up against the club where he won it all, he will have it on his agenda to deliver yet another masterclass in defence.

Keeping the steam

Real Madrid’s dominant win over Osasuna gave the team a significant boost at the top of the table. That, coupled with Barcelona’s dropped points against Granada gifted them a solid three-point lead on the standings.

Heading into the next phase of the calendar, the focus will be to maintain, if not widen the gap over the Catalans. The run of results to arrive over the next few weeks could make or break Los Blancos’ league campaign.

So far this season, Carlo Ancelotti’s side have heavily relied on individual brilliance to fetch them all three points. A recent analysis, in fact, revealed that the men in white would have been down to fifth place if not for Jude Bellingham’s stunning ten goals so far.

There is thus a need for the league leaders to buckle down and step up as a group. Comprehensive and cohesive wins from this point will go a long way in boosting the core’s confidence and setting up for a strong season.

Conversely, another spell of individual-driven success will only allow doubt to creep into the dressing room.

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Three talking points ahead of Villarreal vs Real Madrid

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Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images

Jude Bellingham, Vinicius Jr, Federico Valverde and Arda Guler were all on target when Real Madrid demolished Deportivo Alaves by a 5-0 scoreline midweek.

The win at the Santiago Bernabeu took the team to 93 points in La Liga, with the champion status already earned. The target now, however, is to reach the magical number of 99 points.

Tomorrow, Los Blancos step on the field for their penultimate league clash of the season as they lock horns against Villarreal.

Their opponents, currently placed eighth in the league, are fighting for a place in Europe and must win tomorrow at Estadio de La Ceramica if they are to remain in the race.

Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Villarreal vs Real Madrid.

Can Bellingham maintain the steam?

Jude Bellingham’s dip in form towards the end of the season raised many concerns in the Real Madrid offices over his fitness and physical state. A mini ‘pre-season’ was said to be in the manager’s plan, especially keeping Bellingham’s recovery in mind.

The young midfielder, however, started the team’s game against Deportivo Alaves once more despite rumours of him being rested and dished out a classic on the night. His performance, in many senses, was one that announced his return to form.

In 90 minutes against Alaves, Bellingham scored one goal and provided two assists as the game ended 5-0 in Real Madrid’s favour.

Furthermore, the former Borussia Dortmund star recorded a staggering 121 touches, 99 passes, six key passes and created one big chance. He also completed four dribbles on the night and participated in eight defensive actions.

It thus becomes a serious question ahead of tomorrow’s clash as to how Carlo Ancelotti plans on managing Bellingham’s minutes.

The obvious approach would be to field the youngster from the start and reward his improved performance at the weekend. Concurrently, however, there is concern over the midfielder being overused which inhibits the manager from such a move.

Will Bellingham start against Villarreal or will the likes of Brahim Diaz or Arda Guler get a deserved start? Only time will tell.

Lunin’s heroic exit

Thibaut Courtois’ injury before the commencement of the new season left Real Madrid with a crisis in goal. The repercussions of the blow, however, were not as dire as expected courtesy of Andriy Lunin’s exceptional performances.

Lunin could play his final game of the season vs Villarreal. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

Despite starting the campaign behind Kepa Arrizabalaga on the pecking order, the Ukrainian international has done enough to become the team’s primary goalkeeper across all competitions.

Only Courtois’ return last month displaced him from the starting lineup as the manager prioritised bringing the Belgian superstar back to full fitness.

Real Madrid now plan on starting Courtois for the big UCL final at Wembley next month.

While unfair on Lunin who deserves the start, one cannot blame Ancelotti for relying on the player who single-handedly kept the team in the game the last time they featured in a European final.

With Courtois set to start against Real Betis and Borrusia Dortmund, tomorrow could well be Lunin’s final game of the season for Real Madrid and the 25-year-old will look to depart with a bang.

Momentum is paramount

Real Madrid have already been crowned the champions of La Liga, and every game that remains in the competition at this point only serves as a practice encounter for the big challenge that lies ahead.

Los Blancos take on Borussia Dortmund in the finale of the UCL early next month, and only two games remain before the season-defining encounter. A lot, needless to say, will depend on how Ancelotti manages his squad for the two matches that lie ahead.

Considering that the calendar is no longer as hectic as it was a month ago, the manager could well field his best XI against Villarreal aiming to keep the momentum going for his side. After all, it is paramount at this stage in the season.

At the same time, however, the manager must rotate his squad ahead to give fringe players some deserved minutes and balance the playing time of regular starters.

Los Blancos, at this point, are unbeaten in 23 games across all competitions and have the momentum fairly on their side. Maintaining it with a positive result tomorrow irrespective of the final decision on the extent of rotations will thus be crucial for the Merengues.

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