Spanish La Liga

Sevilla v Real Madrid – Saturday 15th September - Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Seville (22:00)

Gonzalo Higuain, Real Madrid

The resumption of La Liga will see Sevilla lock horns with Real Madrid. Sevilla have a chance to continue Madrid’s poor start to the league. Los Bloncos have had one of their worst starts to the league as they find themselves in 11th spot after three matches, while Sevilla can be content with their unbeaten start to the campaign.

Sevilla are 7th in La Liga, and have yet to taste defeat with a win and two draws to show for their efforts. They started their campaign with a 2-1 home win over Getafe and then earned 2 points in their away ties against Granada and Rayo Vallecano. Sevilla were expecting maximum points in those matches but should be glad at how they have been playing. They earned a hard fought point coming from behind at Granada with only 10 men, to draw 1-1 and against Vallecano they failed to make their dominance count and missed two penalties. Sevilla currently find themselves in a phase of redevelopment after finishing a disappointing ninth in La Liga last season. The financial impact of just missing out on Champions League qualification during the  2010-11 campaign saw a number of players leave the club last summer, and the subsequent early exit from the Europa League further added to the strain. Despite some key departures, the club have managed to keep hold of their biggest assets – Alvaro Negredo and Jesús Navas – and have also bolstered the squad with some intriguing additions. Centre-back Alberto Botia is well known to La Liga fans and has become a first-team regular and the capture of youngsters Geoffrey Kondogbia from French side Lens and Chilean starlet Bryan Rabello from Colo Colo offers some real potential. Spanish international Negredo for one will be relishing playing against his old side. The striker has been Sevilla’s top scorer for the past two seasons and has already bagged two of their three goals so far.

Real Madrid will be looking to build on their first La Liga win after beating Granada 3-0 at home. The champions started the season with a 1-1 draw at Valencia before losing 2-1 to Getafe (who Sevilla beat). However, after being crowned Super Cup champions in a pulsating 2-1 win over their arch rivals Barcelona at the Bernabeu, they went on to claim their first three points against Granada. They will need to improve their away form as they have just one point in two travels,and also lost 3-2 in the first leg of the Super Cup at Camp Nou. After scoring a brace against Granada, Cristiano Ronaldo revealed his unhappiness at Madrid and put the world’s biggest clubs on alert. Since then Real Madrid have been preparing a joint statement with Cristiano Ronaldo that should put an end, at least temporarily, to the speculation over his future. The declaration will reaffirm Real’s commitment to extending his contract beyond 2015 and will also give the club’s full support for him to be named as the European Footballer of the Year. The reaction addresses the two main reasons behind Ronaldo’s unhappiness – the failure of the club to extend his current deal with more money and a perceived lack of support towards him from his club in his battle to beat the likes of Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta of Barcelona to the Ballon d’Or later this year. After making an impressive substitute appearance in the Super Cup, new signing Luka Modric was handed his first start in their Granada victory and Jose Mourinho is likely to start the Croatian again after praising his performance.

Real Madrid have dominated recent encounters but Sevilla are looking in better form and they will fancy their chances, especially considering Madrid’s poor away form thus far. The draw is tipped.

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