Zinedine Zidane Real Madrid 2020-21Getty Images

NIVEA MEN Football Insight: Sevilla vs Real Madrid

It’s been a bruising week for Real Madrid, as a testing season has taken another turn for the worst.

Last weekend’s 2-0 home defeat against Deportivo Alaves came on the back of recent losses against Cadiz, Valencia and Shakhtar Donetsk, but it represented a new nadir for Zinedine Zidane’s troops.

Real were outthought, outmuscled and outplayed, and even Casemiro’s late consolation goal proved too little too late, as the minnows stunned the reigning Spanish champions.

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Los Merengues needed to bounce back against Shakhtar in the Champions League in midweek, but they ultimately proved unable to learn their lessons from the Alaves debacle and fell to a 2-0 defeat in Ukraine.

Real have now won just one of their last five matches, losing four in the process, and the impressive 2-0 victory away at Internazionale has been the only positive of a testing month in which they’ve also lost Eden Hazard to a thigh injury for much of the rest of 2020.

The game against Sevilla now takes on titanic proportions for Real, who simply cannot afford to let this crisis continue when they return to domestic action…particularly with tough games against Borussia Monchengladbach, Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao on the horizon.

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Sevilla may have been humbled 4-0 by Olivier Giroud-inspired Chelsea in the UCL in midweek, but domestically, they’re in fine fettle, having won their last three games on the bounce.

However, while they were impressive going forward against Osasuna—who were defeated 4-2—they toiled against Huesca last weekend, requiring a late winner from Youssef En-Nesyri to seal all three points and move up to fifth place on 16 points.

They head into this match against Real only one point behind the champions, having played a game fewer, and would leapfrop Zidane’s side with victory at home on Saturday.

Sevilla will be without Sergio Escudero, while goalkeeper Yassine Bounou is still recovering from coronavirus and the likes of Tomas Vaclik, Marcos Acuna and Suso are all doubtful.

Real, however, have problems of their own…beyond Hazard’s latest setback.

Dani Carvajal is injured again, meaning Zidane could turn to either Nacho or Lucas Vazquez to fill in at right-back.

Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid, Champions League 2020-21Getty

Federico Valverde will also miss out, while Luka Jovic and Alvaro Odriozola are also doubts. There are also question marks against Sergio Ramos—who faces an anxious wait to see if he can turn out against his former club—and Zidane may need to partner Eder Militao with Raphael Varane in the heart of the backline.

With Hazard absent, Martin Odegaard could be in line to support the influential Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio, while youngsters Rodrygo, Mariano and Vinicius Junior may also have a big role to play as Real look to get back on track.

Real won on their last visit to Sevilla—a 1-0 triumph in September 2019—and have a strong recent record away in Andalusia, having won four of their last five games in the region.

Sevilla’s recent home record, however, is strong, having lost just one of their last 15 matches—against Eibar in October—although Zidane knows how to get the better of them, having won seven games in all competitions (out of 10) against Los Nervionenses .

Real have never failed to win in four consecutive La Liga matches during Zidane’s tenure, and that’s the ominous landmark they will be desperate to avoid against Sevilla this weekend, having lost two and drawn one of their last three matches.