After Sevilla Loss, Are Real Madrid Cracking Under Barca and Atleti Pressure?

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After Sevilla Loss, Are Real Madrid Cracking Under Barca and Atleti Pressure?
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The past week has been horrendous for Real Madrid. It started with Jese's season-ending injury against Schalke in the Champions League and finished with a beating by Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

And in between? An earthshattering, deflating defeat at the Bernabeu to archrivals Barcelona in the Clasico.

You wonder if they're feeling the pressure at the top, with both Atletico Madrid and Barcelona now ahead of them in La Liga. They looked ragged at times against Sevilla, during their 2-1 loss.

Pepe and Raphael Varane were made a mockery of by Ivan Rakitic and Carlos Bacca on Wednesday night.

The second Sevilla goal which won them the game is the obvious example. Rakitic flicked the ball over Pepe's head and ran around to collect it.

The Portuguese defender was then beaten for pace by Bacca as he chased back, before the Colombian slotted it past Diego Lopez in the Madrid goal.

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
Ivan Rakitic (right) was key in Seville's win.

Rakitic, the Croatian midfielder, was outstanding, and there is no shame in Madrid being shown up at times by him.

In the summer, he is likely to become a target for several of the continent’s major outfits.

Against Sevilla the whole team looked shaky, with the exception of Luka Modric.

Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo found it hard to produce anything up front, while Karim Benzema was anonymous.

Ronaldo opened the scoring, but his free-kick took a huge deflection off of Bacca in the Sevilla wall and deceived the goalkeeper.

Bale has been in good form of late but is still yet to produce anything in a big match. Ronaldo, to his credit, was trying as hard as he could to turn the game around.

He had one low drive that skipped inches past the right-hand upright, leaving Madridistas with their faces in their hands.

But when Bale blasted a late free-kick high over the crossbar, Ronaldo's reaction was unimpressive.

The forward gave the Welshman a dirty scowl across the pitch.

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
No impact: Gareth Bale could not make the difference.

At a time like this, Madrid need to pull together, raise morale within the squad and fight for the title.

That's going to be difficult now. They are on 70 points, three behind city rivals Atletico and two behind Barcelona. But effectively, given that they lost to Atletico at the Bernabeu and drew at the Vicente Calderon, they are four points behind Diego Simeone's side.

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If two teams are level on points in La Liga, the head-to-head records between the sides take precedent over the goal difference.

Sevilla are the first team that Real Madrid have lost to in any competition this season, outside of Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.

This comes at the worst time, and it raises question marks over their morale and mentality ahead of their game against Rayo Vallecano this weekend.

We know that Madrid’s mental strength is strong; they came back from a five-point deficit to Barcelona and Atletico Madrid at Christmas to top the table.

2014 has been a fruitful year for them so far, and it still could prove be very successful.

Sergio Ramos missed the game against Seville, where he began his career, after he was sent off in the Clasico on Sunday night.

Andres Kudacki/Associated Press
Return: Sergio Ramos has served his suspension.

He will return to the side at the weekend and shore up the back line.

There were signs during the game that Madrid haven’t lost their way totally.

For a 20-minute spell at the start of the second half Madrid were dominant, and Carlo Ancelotti will wish that his team had capitalised on that.

They will want to respond now with a big win against Rayo Vallecano and start to rebuild their momentum.

Even if they cannot prevail in La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League are still huge opportunities.

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