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And The Beat Goes On: Real Madrid Smacks Sevilla

Real Madrid v Sevilla - La Liga Santander Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Over the past few seasons, the Santiago Bernabéu has not quite been a sanctuary for Real Madrid. Whether it be against La Liga’s cream-of-the-crop or relegation-zone teams, home field advantage is not automatic due to the Madridistas’ expectation to win, along with their opponents’ tactical prowess. However, there are teams that refuse to lose at home against certain rivals. That is exactly what occurred on Saturday afternoon when Real Madrid’s home-winning streak against Sevilla was extended to 13 with a 2-1 victory.

As you would expect, the five-time Europa League winners came out of the gate strong with an effective high press and swarmed any Real Madrid penetration as if they were hornets defending a nest. Luka Jovic and Lucas Vásquez were non-factors as Real Madrid’s offense was stifled and uncomfortable. As Sevilla’s confidence increased alongside their execution of Lopetegui’s strategy, Luuk de Jong’s beautiful header goal in the 29th minute put the Sevilla faithful on cloud nine. Unfortunately for them, a VAR review disallowed the goal. All their momentum went out the window in a matter of minutes. Lopetegui’s gestures of disbelief and players’ complaints to referee Juan Martinez Munuera were all too familiar. This was the first sign of déjà vu.

As the second half began, a spark was needed to get Real Madrid going. In the 57th minute Casemiro sent a beautiful right-foot scoop shot after receiving a golden back-heel pass from Jovic. It seemed the crowd would witness another win by a wide margin, but Sevilla responded with a rifled left foot shot by Luuk de Jong, which was also reviewed by VAR but this time allowed to tie the game within minutes. The battle continued, but Real Madrid’s spirit was kicked up a notch and the home crowd began to play a supporting role.

With Zidane’s clever substitutions, the Spanish SuperCopa champions were reclaiming the midfield and poking holes in Sevilla’s defense. Karim Benzema’s associative passing and Vinicius Jr.’s sideline sprints were wreaking havoc to the Sevilla back line. When Casemiro put away a header in between two defenders in the 69th minute, that is when the wheels came off the wagon for Sevilla. Their passes were imprecise, fouling increased, and ball pressure dropped. One chilling moment that encapsulates Sevilla’s Bernabéu decade-long woes occurred in the 90th minute. Needing only one goal to salvage a point and Real Madrid having everyone behind the ball, Sevilla casually walked the ball up with zero urgency with three minutes left. An animated Lopetegui was seen waving his left arm demanding they push the ball up faster. The tying goal never came.

Sevilla is a quality rival who are currently in the Europa League’s round of 32. However, every time their team set foot in our “Temple of Football” since 2008, they give a brief battle then fold like a cheap accordion. For Real Madrid, their zeal and fortitude in this matchup is commendable as these quality wins serve well in the pursuit of their 34th Liga title. History repeated itself as Sevilla got freaked by the bright lights and Real Madrid cranked up another gear in the second half to secure three points. As the second half of the season continues, the expectation inside Madridismo is for the team to finish every home game strong against major opponents, whether it be in Liga or Champions League. Some home cookin’ could be the recipe to one or more titles this spring. ¡Hala Madrid y nada más!

- Christian Paredes (@Xian_D_Paredes) is a Founding Member and former Chairman (2012-2016) of La Peña Madridista Sur de California (@RmSurCalifornia)

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