Real Madrid: 5 players who must shine in huge match at Sevilla

Karim Benzema of Real Madrid (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Karim Benzema of Real Madrid (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images) /

The pressure will only increase if Real Madrid cannot get a result at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan against Sevilla and former manager Julen Lopetegui.

Zinedine Zidane is feeling the heat. Rumors of a manager’s dismissal are nothing new at Real Madrid, and Zidane was even on the receiving end of such speculation early in the 2019-2020 season before winning La Liga in the first season of the so-called “Revolution”.

But this season, it feels real. It actually feels like we could see Zidane walk out the door, but not by his own accord this time. Real Madrid are one failure to win against Borussia Monchengladbach away from crashing into the Europea League, or, worse, out of European football entirely. And that result would have to lead to changes, whether Zidane is truly at fault or not.

Amidst the weight of next week’s tie with Borussia Monchengladbach, do not forget about this weekend’s fixture at Sevilla. The Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan awaits Zinedine Zidane’s men. As does former Real Madrid manager Julen Lopetegui, who would love nothing more than to leapfrog Real into fourth in the table – and maybe get some revenge on Los Blancos in the process.

In order to prevent that from happening, here are five players on Los Merengues who must be at their best on La Liga’s Matchday 12.

CF Karim Benzema

Karim Benzema did essentially nothing against Shakhtar Donetsk. To be fair, he did create a golden opportunity for the wasteful Marco Asensio, but he was honestly poor by his standards in this 2-0 loss. The issues go deeper than one forward, but Benzema is now the default superstar of the team with Eden Hazard out. He may be a legend and a great No. 9, but he is no superstar. Benzema has never been a 30-goal striker in the league and never will be. That is not his style.

But here’s what he can do. He can be the difference in tough games. Last year when Real Madrid beat Sevilla 1-0 at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, it was Benzema who broke the deadlock with a headed effort on goal. Benzema can do the same this weekend, sparing Zidane a third straight defeat in this downward spiral.

CM Toni Kroos

It’s all about control. When Real Madrid face Sevilla on Saturday afternoon, they need to be the ones in control and they need to be purposeful about their passing. As we saw against Inter Milan last week, there is nobody who can dictate a game better with his passing than Toni Kroos.

Joan Jordan, Fernando, and Ivan Rakitic are not a midfield trio to trifle with. They are just as capable of setting the tone with their experience as Los Blancos are, so it will take a world-class performance from Kroos to ensure victory for Real Madrid.

But judging by what we have seen from him this season, we have no reason to doubt Kroos’ ability to deliver on Matchday 12. He remains one of the world’s best midfielders, even if he does not always get that appreciation from fans in his own country of Germany.

RB Alvaro Odriozola

I don’t know if Lucas Vazquez or Alvaro Odriozola will start on Saturday, but it appears Odriozola is ready to return. And he is needed, as Dani Carvajal suffered another injury before the loss to Deportivo Alaves that will keep him out for weeks.

Odriozola has his flaws, but he is a good right back. His pace makes up for a lot of his aggressiveness and the learning curve he faces at the position, and he can offer the attack width and purpose. Odriozola may be the most underrated attacking fullback in La Liga.

I mentioned his flaws defensively, but he is still a better defensive right back than Vazquez. And that is because Vazquez is no right back. He showed us that with his defending during Shakhtar Donetsk’s second goal on Tuesday evening. Vazquez is not trained to play the position and to know how to position himself correctly. His mistakes will inevitably hurt the team, even as his crossing and intensity are appreciated.

Odriozola could be in a big spot this weekend, and he could prove himself to Zinedine Zidane one year after the manager unceremoniously cast him out of the side for one bad performance at Mallorca.

AM Martin Odegaard

Real Madrid failed to get the most out of Martin Odegaard against Shakhtar Donetsk, though he was one of the standouts the previous Champions League week at the San Siro. Zidane called Odegaard back from Real Sociedad for a reason; he is supposed to be an essential part of the squad in 2020-2021.

One of La Liga’s best attacking players last season, Odegaard brings a quality with his defense-splitting passes and command of the final third that other players cannot. But then why did Zidane play him more to the left against Shakhtar? He should be operating the right channel or the central regions of the pitch instead.

Odegaard brings a lot of quality on set pieces, just as Toni Kroos does. And like Kroos, he is a pinpoint passer who can progressively move the ball. It is crucial for Zidane to put Odegaard in a position to succeed against Sevilla’s stingy defense on Saturday, because Odegaard can help unlock Karim Benzema. Does the diamond await?

DM Casemiro

I expect we will see Casemiro start this weekend after he did not play against Shakhtar Donetsk. The Brazilian defensive midfielder has disappointed this season, but he did help the team in the loss to Alaves last weekend by scoring the lone goal late in the match. Casemiro even scored a brace earlier in 2020 when Real Madrid beat Sevilla 2-1 at home.

So the 28-year-old can have a big say on how this pivotal match ends. Casemiro is still one of the world’s best defensive midfielders, even when he is not fully in form. His defense in transition was missed greatly against Shakhtar, and Real Madrid will probably need that enforcement and his runs into the box at Sevilla.

Next. Some Real Madrid players want Zinedine Zidane out. dark

Although Casemiro is not a real goal-scoring threat, he can help in this regard, especially when the ball is lofted into the air. Don’t overlook his potential to make a huge impact on the match.