Real Madrid has officially tied FC Barcelona’s record for most consecutive unbeaten matches with 39 games. Number 40 will have to fall in the hands of Sevilla, as the Andalusian side hope to avenge the 3-0 from the Bernabéu. They will meet twice at Sevilla this week as Sunday’s La Liga clash is also at the Sánchez Pizjuán. Though the advantage is significant, this rival and crowd are not to be trusted.
Preferred Lineup: 4-3-3
Zinedine Zidane was able to get a good lead in the home game even without Ramos, Benzema, and Ronaldo. With that in mind, ruling out another appearance by a substitute attack isn’t too far out. Sergio Ramos seems to be recovered, but Pepe, Kovačić, Lucas and Bale are still out. On top of that, Isco may be a new addition to the injured list. Luckily, the squad has proved its depth this season.
GK: Kiko Casilla
He started the year off in the best possible way. A clean sheet against Sevilla inspired his colleague Keylor Navas to do the same in La Liga. Stopping the rival from scoring early on will help in keeping things calm.
RB: Dani Carvajal
Danilo came in late in the first leg to give some rest to Carvajal. Still, the Spanish defender doesn’t seem fatigued and has what it takes to keep playing. He’ll need to be watchful in the back as Ben Yedder and company will look to get one in very early.
CB: Raphaël Varane
Pepe’s untimely injury will keep the Frenchman on the pitch. He even scored the second goal in the previous game, so he’s going through a great moment. This time around, he’ll be needed more in the defense than in the attack.
CB: Nacho Fernández
Captain Sergio Ramos has trained with his teammates and is available for this match. At the time of writing, the call-up squad hasn’t been announced. If the coach plays safe, the #4 would play later in the second half, otherwise, he would start.
His start to 2017 has been an excellent one, to the point that the crowd at home gave him a standing ovation over the weekend. With Coentrão showing up once again, the Brazilian will probably be included in the rotations more often.
RCM: Luka Modrić
He could have skipped the second half versus Granada like Toni Kroos, yet it didn’t happen. It’s through his creativity and vision that the team will pursue a fourth and fifth goal to settle this.
Like Modrić, he hasn’t been given a break. The coach won’t want his players to get too confident and throw the advantage away. Because of this, he’ll keep a strong man like Casemiro to stop any Sevilla advances.
LCM: Toni Kroos
It was the German that finally rested on Saturday. He played the first half against Granada and then was taken out. The only reason for this might have been because of the four yellow cards he’s accumulated. Without Isco and Kovačić, he’ll play.
RW: James Rodríguez
This is where a big headache will start for the boss. The Colombian scored a brace and performed very well at home. He didn’t repeat a starting role in La Liga, yet his odds for starting this one are very good.
ST: Álvaro Morata
Zidane will need to be very careful with these two following decisions. He risked a lot by leaving out Karim and Cristiano and it paid off. He could do it again, but if things go south fast, it could be catastrophic. This could go either way.
LW: Marco Asensio
He’s lost that spark from earlier in the season. He’s still young so he may need a loan to a first division team to fully adjust to La Liga and keep growing. If the attack is revamped, his chances are strong.