Preview: Madrid-Sevilla

Real Madrid are faced with a defensive crisis when they host Sevilla on Saturday afternoon.

Raphael Varane’s injury against Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday means Nacho Fernandez and Jesus Vallejo are Madrid’s only specialist centre-backs for the visit of Sevilla, given Sergio Ramos is also serving a one-match ban.

Furthermore, Dani Carvajal and Casemiro are suspended, so teenage right-back Achraf Hakimi is set to come in, while Toni Kroos is expected to get the nod ahead of Marcos Llorente in defensive midfield.

Sevilla, on the other hand, have won their last three games in La Liga and qualified for the Champions League last 16 midweek, although Coach Eduardo Berizzo is still receiving cancer treatment.

“Momentum doesn’t win you games,” assistant Ernesto Marcucci said at a Press conference.

“We are where we want to be, but Saturday will be a new story and a very difficult game to play.

“Hopefully after the game, let’s say that the momentum continues.

“We’ll try to make it an even game and go out to compete against a great team that always make it very difficult for you with great players.

“We’ll try to go for the victory when we’re at our most confident. Madrid’s defensive problems? Focusing on that would be a mistake.

“We must think about our own game, who’s in the best condition and what we should do.

“Absences like those of Ramos or Varane will surely affect any them, including them, but those who play will want to show that they’re worthy of more minutes.”

The Andalusians have won four of their last five home games against Madrid in La Liga, yet you would have to go all the way back to December 2008 for their last League victory at the Santiago Bernabeu.

They also represent Cristiano Ronaldo’s favourite opponents, the Portuguese having scored 25 goals in only 17 appearances against them.

Real Madrid (probable): Keylor; Achraf, Vallejo, Nacho, Marcelo; Modric, Kroos, Kovacic; Isco; Benzema, Ronaldo

Injuries/suspensions: Ramos, Carvajal, Casemiro (S) Bale, Varane (I)

Sevilla (probable): Sergio Rico; Mercado, Kjaer, Lenglet, Carole; Pizarro, Banega; Navas, Franco Vazquez, Nolito; Muriel

Injuries/suspensions: Pareja, Carrico (I)

Referee: Martinez Munuera

Form guide: Madrid – 4th (D W D W L) Sevilla – 5th (W W W L W)

Previous meeting: Sevilla 2-1 Madrid

Venue: Santiago Bernabeu

Kick-off time: 15:15 BST/16:15 CET (LIVE on Football Espana)