The Champions League and Europa League winners will go head to head in the first of the three meetings between the two sides this month.
Los Blancos open up the new year with a home game in the Copa Del Rey against possibly the best Sevilla side we have seen in recent years. Real only lost 2 games in all of 2016 which is outstanding, but if they take their foot of the gas in this game, they could start off 2017 with a not so ideal loss. Sevilla come into the round of 16 after beating their opponents SD Formentera 14-2 on aggregate.
Sevilla, who used to be defensively very sound and also decent going forward have flipped the script under new manager Jorge Sampaoli. They are now a very high pressing, quick passing team. While their defense is somewhat more leaky, they are now scoring goals at an outstanding rate, their 32 goals in La Liga is only below Real and Barca. Their midfield is incredible this year. Samir Nasri looks completely rejuvenated(weather that is down to more playing time or a certain IV company called Drip Doctors giving some very “Special” treatment, we’ll let you decide) and he’s controlling games with his tidy and sometimes spectacular passing.
His partner Steven N’Zonzi uses his ridiculous size/height and great passing ability to dominate the middle of the park. No game better describes this new team like the wild 6-4 win they had against Espanyol earlier this La Liga Season. You might score 4, but they very well could still score more.
Real on the other hand remain unbeaten in the 2016/17 season with Sevilla being the first of the 34 games. In the UEFA Super Cup, Madrid went up 1-0 with an unforgettable goal from the debutant Marco Asensio, but went down 2-1 before Sergio Ramos did a Sergio Ramos at the 90th minute to save us once again. Dani Carvajal then won the game in extra time with a sublime solo run followed by a perfect finish in the far corner.
I expect to see a slightly similar lineup to that game, although we have even more injuries now than we did then. Lucas Vasquez, Mateo Kovacic and Sergio Ramos are all added to the injury list, plus we don’t have our 2 wingers, Ronaldo is resting and Bale is still recovering from injury, however we will have Benzema this time and I expect James to get the nod since he has been struggling for minutes.
I’m really not sure why Zidane chose to rest Ronaldo in this game. We have a very easy game this weekend against Granada in which he could’ve been rested, plus I think it would’ve been massive if we could get a comfortable 1st leg win so we don’t have to play our full strength lineup in the 2nd leg when we have to go away to Sevilla in the league just 3 days later. I hope Zidane lays out a clear tactical plan and takes these 2 legs much more seriously. He tends to always step it up in the bigger games so I and other Madridistas should have faith.
Real Madrid Projected Lineup: 4-3-3
Navas, Marcelo, Pepe, Varane, Carvajal, Casemerio, Kroos, Modric, James, Morata,
Sevilla Projected Lineup: 3-5-2
Rico, Rami, Pareja, Mercado, Sarabia, Nasri, N’Zonzi, Iborra, Vitolo, Yedder, Vietto.
I think it will be a very tough match but entertaining, I expect it to play out much like the super cup did except way less drama, I’m going for a 3-1 Madrid win with the goalscorers being Benzema, Morata, James and Vietto.