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Real Madrid: How Will They Line Up Against Sevilla in La Liga Clash?

Real's Karim Benzema, left, scores a goal during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu  stadium in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, March 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
Andres Kudacki/Associated Press
Samuel MarsdenFeatured ColumnistMarch 25, 2014

One good thing about football, particularly in Real Madrid’s case after their topsy-turvy loss to Barcelona on Sunday, is that you are often presented with a chance to bounce back almost immediately and show your "bouncebackability" (as former footballer Iain Dowie coined it).

So while they may have spent Sunday night and Monday morning bemoaning the decisions which halted their 31-match unbeaten run, Los Blancos can now channel all that aggression into beating Sevilla on Wednesday night.

Not that the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan is a particularly easy place to go at the moment.

Unai Emery’s men have won their last five matches in La Liga and are unbeaten in six. Their last loss came at home to Barcelona when, perhaps, they should have been more clinical after taking a first-half lead.

Form: Ivan Rakitic and Sevilla will carry a threat
Form: Ivan Rakitic and Sevilla will carry a threatToni Rodriguez/Associated Press

On top of that, they advanced into the quarterfinals of the Europa League courtesy of a penalty shootout victory over their city rivals Real Betis last Thursday.

There will be no red carpet awaiting Madrid when they rock up in Seville.

Sevilla are in good form,” Carlo Ancelotti acknowledged in his pre-match press conference, per AS. “They won the derby [against Real Betis in the Europa League] and are full of confidence. We're aware that the game is very important for us.”

The Italian is nursing two suspensions as part of the hangover from Sunday’s Clasico.

Sergio Ramos, who began his career with Sevilla, will be missing after he saw red in the second half for a foul on Neymar, although Madrid still harbour hopes of a successful appeal on his behalf.

Starters: Varane should partner with Pepe in defence
Starters: Varane should partner with Pepe in defenceDaniel Tejedor/Associated Press/Associated Press

Angel di Maria, who picked up his fifth booking of the season, will also miss the match, joining long-term absentees Sami Khedira, Alvaro Arbeloa and Jese Rodriguez in being unavailable for selection.

There shouldn’t be too many concerns for Ancelotti in replacing them, though.

After Ramos’ red card, Raphael Varane entered the fray against Barca, and the French defender is set to be paired with Pepe on Wednesday night. Dani Carvajal and Marcelo should both be fine to continue as the full-backs.

Di Maria’s replacement isn’t as straightforward.

“We can replace him with [Asier] Illarramendi or with Isco,” Ancelotti explained. “I'll make that decision [on Wednesday].”

Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

Illarramendi is similar to Xabi Alonso in some ways, and there have been signs that Madrid’s manager prefers not to play the two in the same three-man midfield if he does not have to.

Ancelotti has also talked of how important it is for Isco to adapt to a deeper midfield role, per Goal.com, and the former Malaga attacking midfielder is the favourite to get the nod from his boss.

In the front three, with Jese’s injury and little faith being shown in Alvaro Morata, there is not much room for change. Karim Benzema, who scored a brace against Barca, will line up in the central role after showing no signs of the injury which ruled him out of the recent Champions League win against Schalke.

Gareth Bale, who flattered to deceive in the Clasico, and Cristiano Ronaldo will flank the Frenchman.

Finally, in goal, Diego Lopez will continue to keep Iker Casillas sidelined as it is a league fixture.

 

Predicted Real Madrid XI: Diego Lopez; Dani Carvajal, Pepe, Raphael Varane, Marcelo; Xabi Alonso, Luka Modric, Isco; Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo

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