Coming off an embarrassing 1-0 defeat to Granada, Real Madrid has some work to do before we will be able to put the club back into contention with La Liga leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.
Sevilla is coming to the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday, where the second fixture between the two clubs this season set to commence. After Sevilla took care of Madrid 1-0 during the first leg between the two, and if recent success comes in to play, Sevilla will have the advantage yet again.
Madrid manager Jose Mourinho has drawn fire the past several weeks for sloppy play from his side, and his job might be in jeopardy with another loss in league play.
With Los Blancos 16 points out in the La Liga standings behind the two leaders, this is a pivotal game for positioning for both sides. It's especially important for Madrid, which needs to protect its 8-2 home record this season with a convincing win over a league rival.
When: Saturday, Feb. 9, at 4 p.m. ET
Where: Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain
Live Stream: beIN Sport Football
The rumor mill has been flying off the handle in the past week or so about Mourinho and his job security, and the loss to Granada did nothing to dispel those rumors.
Madrid star Xabi Alonso is sticking behind his manager, even with his squad well off the pace from both first and second place in pursuit of a second-straight La Liga title.
His interview with BBC Sport confirmed—at least on paper—that the club is behind the influential manager: "The way that he communicates with the players, it's different. The way he empathizes with the players as well is different...That is why you want to be behind him, why you want to play and fight for him on the pitch. The players, we do believe in him."
However, star striker Cristiano Ronaldo is not so sure that his manager will return, both because of poor performance this season and looming offers from Chelsea soon to grace his doorstep.
ESPN's Dermot Corrigan reported on Thursday that the star striker was quoted as saying the following about Mourinho's role going forward for the Spanish powerhouse:
I think he will continue, at least until the end of the season, because he is a coach who always wants to win and we have some goals in from of us which we can achieve. After that he will decide what is best for him, for the group and for the club. But I do not know what he is thinking, nor the club, so I prefer not to talk about it.
The latest speculation on his fallout with both the club and local media is one that has shocked Madrid faithful. TalkSport's Lee Roden wrote a scathing piece about Mourinho and his ill-tempered attitude towards Spanish media, citing more reasons why the long-time manager might be gone soon.
On the other side, Sevilla is playing great football right now behind new coach Unai Emery, winning two straight matches and playing in great form right now.
Winning their fourth consecutive home game under Emery on Sunday, Sevilla took care of Rayo Vallecano by a score of 2-1. Álvaro Negredo and Ivan Rakitic continue to star for the club and will look to find a way to pull off a stunning second upset of Madrid this season.
Sevilla is still without goalkeeper Andrés Palop, so it will likely have to rely on veteran Beto to handle the net against an always-dangerous Blancos squad.
The club also expects to be without the services of key player Rakitic, who was sent off in the win over Rayo with two yellow cards. Those two losses are huge for Sevilla and could have a profound impact on the winner of this match.
With revenge in sight and Mourinho pressing, this match could go one of two ways. Although Madrid has been stellar at home, it could drop this decision with players pressing and chemistry at an all-time low with Mourinho's problems taking center stage.
However, it could also go strikingly well, with key players like Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil banding together to help get this season back on the right track.
I like the latter and will take Madrid to rebound from its defeat by Granada with a big victory on Saturday.
Real Madrid 2, Sevilla FC 1