By 90Min
December 08, 2017

Real Madrid welcome Sevilla at Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday afternoon in a crucial La Liga match that may boost or hinder both sides' title hopes. 

The two clubs are respectively fourth and fifth in the table but both have an eight-point gap with leaders Barcelona and boss Zinedine Zidane will look at narrowing that gap as much as possible. 

Cristiano Ronaldo will march on the pitch having just been crowned the best footballer in the world at Thursday night's Ballon d'Or awards, which he won for the fifth time, equalling Lionel Messi's record.  

Real Madrid have successfully qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League behind Tottenham. Los Blancos defeated Borussia Dortmund in a 3-2 away match on Wednesday night but conceded two goals in ten minutes and will need to reshape their defence ahead of the league clash. 

Sevilla also qualified as second for the Champions League round of last 16 behind a Premier League outfit. Liverpool have topped their group with an impressive 6-0 win over Spartak Moscow, while the Spanish couldn't go beyond the draw against Maribor. 

Sevilla have lost only one of their last ten fixtures and will try to close in on Zidane, who cannot afford to lose a third match of the league season. Here's all you need to know about Saturday's game. 


Classic Encounter

Aitor Alcalde/GettyImages

Sevilla 3-3 Real Madrid - (12 January 2017)

Last year's Champions League and La Liga winners Real Madrid were unbeaten for the 40th game as they drew against Sevilla in the second leg of the Copa del Rey's round of 16. 

One week earlier, Los Blancos had eased past Sevilla with a 3-0 win and Zidane decided to leave on the bench some of his best men - among which Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Modric - during the return match at the Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium. 

However, the Andalusians had not given up and took the lead after only ten minutes thanks to Danilo's own goal, though Marco Asensio equalised early in the second half.

The result changed again five minutes later, when Stevan Jovetic netted a magnificent volley for the home side and Vicente Iborra signed the 3-1 as Sevilla grew in confidence and thought to have it all wrapped with the match approaching the end. 


But stoic Galacticos denied the Andalusians their hopes to reach the next stage as Sergio Ramos converted a penalty in the 83rd minute, and substitute Karim Benzema levelled the game during stoppage time. 


Key Battles

JAVIER SORIANO/GettyImages

Cristiano Ronaldo vs Sergio Escudero


The Portuguese is simply the best striker and player in the world. Cristiano Ronaldo has not only won his fifth Ballon d'Or, but has broken yet another record on Wednesday night, by becoming the first forward to score in all six matches of the Champions League group stage. 

If there's a man who could try to stop him, that is Sergio Escudero, who's been enjoying good form this year both in the defensive ranks and upfront. The 28-year-old did wonders during his side's 3-3 draw against Liverpool and is a constant threat to his enemy defence. 


Team News

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Sergio Ramos, Casemiro and Sergio Ramos and Dani Carvajal are missing through suspension.


Zidane will also have to do without Raphael Varane, who picked up an injury on Wednesday and is thought to be missing the match. Jesus Vallejo is believed to be fit, though.

David Soria, Franco Vazquez, Nolito and Johannes Geis should all make their return to the starting squad after resting during the match against Maribor. 


Predicted Real Madrid Line-ups: Navas; Achraf, Nacho, Vallejo, Marcelo; Kroos, Kovacic, Modric; Ronaldo, Benzema, Isco


Predicted Sevilla Line-ups: Soria; Mercado, Geis, Lenglet, Escudero; Vazquez, Pizarro, Banega; Navas, Ben Yedder, Sarabia


Prediction

Denis Doyle/GettyImages

All odds are in Real Madrid's favour as they play at home, have won in the Champions League and can rely on Cristiano Ronaldo to sort things out in case of necessity. 

On the other hand, Sevilla will aim at making things impossible for the hosts and could probably manage to score at least one goal, especially considering that half of the Galacticos' defence is ruled out. 

Predicted result: Real Madrid 3-1 Sevilla

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