Sevilla FC 2-1 Real Madrid
Sevilla FC: Rico; Mariano, Pareja, Rami, Escudero; N’Zonzi, Iborra; Vázquez, Nasri, Vitolo; Ben Yedder. (4-2-3-1)
Real Madrid: Navas; Varane, Ramos, Nacho; Carvajal, Modrić, Casemiro, Kroos, Marcelo; Ronaldo, Benzema. (3-5-2)
Both teams got into the pitch with an interesting tactical tweak in their lineups: On the one hand, Real Madrid played with a three-defender backline; on the other hand, Sevilla got into the pitch with a four-defender backline. It was even more peculiar for Real Madrid knowing that it was the first time that the team has played with a three-player defensive line since Zinedine Zidane became the head coach. Sevilla got into the pitch with a four-player backline but switched right away to three defenders — Mariano played as a wide midfielder.
In theory, having three defenders on the back tells you that the game will be pure offense. But it was not. Both teams struggled to create offensive opportunities and give rhythm to the passing flow. Mainly because of the fantastic performance by Casemiro and Steven N’Zonzi. The two center midfielders deployed a solid and feisty positional defense. Two walls that every player on the field struggled to beat. The lack of pace during the first half could also had to do with the nervousness of committing a mistake that would cost a goal in favor to the adversary. Both teams are characterized for being lethal in transition when deploying counter-attacks.
Luka Modrić and Vitolo also had a great game. They were the ones who tried to be the difference for their teams on offense. Modrić and his playmaking abilities, quick ball recovery and great sense of space when switching positions — there were moments when he went wide to help on the right wing; Vitolo and his versatility to face rivals on one-on-one situations and take advantage of the open spaces when receiving the pass.
In the 67th minute, Real Madrid punched first after Sergio Rico made an unnecessary foul on Daniel Carvajal inside the box. Penalty for Real Madrid. Cristiano Ronaldo did not hesitate to put the ball inside the net and put his team right on top.
Real Madrid seemed a little bit overconfident after they scored the goal. They allowed Sevilla to gain more spaces in the midfield area by getting their fullbacks back to the backline.
During the week, there were a lot of critics on Sergio Ramos, former Sevilla player, for his celebration after he scored the penalty in the 3-3 tie between the two teams. In the 85th minute, something that normally a Hollywood movie script would have. Ramos, Real Madrid’s clutch amulet, scored an own goal and gave life back to Sevilla and their fans.
The euphoric reaction by the fans was contagious for both Sevilla and Real Madrid. Sevilla gave everything that they had left to win the game. That was what happened after Stevan Jovetić, Sevilla’s new winter acquisition, scored the winner goal from long distance.
Real Madrid’s unbeatable streak stayed at 40 games and Sevilla made clear to everyone that they are serious candidates to fight for the league title.