Just days after Real Madrid came from behind to Sevilla to book their place in the Copa Del Rey quarter-finals from the jaws of elimination, Los Blancos once again were given a rigorous test at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán.
This time. However. they could not prevent defeat, and Zinedine Zidane was left red-faced after his decision to drastically change his approach backfired. Real started with a rare three-man defence against Sevilla on Sunday and threw away the game in the final few minutes, having led 1-0 up to the 85th minute.
Zidane started Keylor Navas in goal, with Nacho, Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane making up a back three ahead of him. Marcelo and Dani Carvajal started at wing-back. Toni Kroos, Casemiro and Luka Modric operated in midfield, with Karim Benzema starting alongside Cristiano Ronaldo in attack. So what went wrong?
For Sevilla, left-winger Vitolo was a constant threat, creating three chances and making six dribbles, while grabbing an assist against Real Madrid. Sevilla dominated the midfield too, with Steven N’Zonzi boasting six tackles, while Casemiro, Kroos and Modric managed just four between them.
The defence was resolute too. Sevilla’s backline averaged a tackle or interception every five minutes, resulting in all but one of Real Madrid’s players failing to register a shot on target. The hosts outfought and outplayed their opponents on the night, while being deadly in transition to turn defence into attack in quick time.
Real Madrid’s three midfielders left the game with only 120 completed passes between them, six fewer than Sevilla’s Vicente Iborra and N’Zonzi. Twice in a matter of days Sevilla have got the better of Los Blancos, and Zidane now has to rethink his approach after getting things horribly wrong on two occasions.
With Barcelona also winning, both the Catalans and Jorge Sampaoli’s men narrowed the gap to Real Madrid atop of the La Liga table, hinting that the title race is far from over with the mid-point approaching.