They were under pressure and many expected – and wanted – Real Madrid to lose against Sevilla at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán, but Zinedine Zidane’s side did what they so often do when everything is going against them. They won. Here, then, come three questions that were answered by this victory and three new ones that this match created.
1. Would Real Madrid respond like they usually do?
When Real Madrid are under pressure and questioned, that’s when they tend to pull out a big performance. If you expect them to lose because they’ve been in poor form and because they’re facing a strong team, then think again. That’s exactly the type of situation when they come out and win. It’s already happened multiple times this season. They went away to Barcelona after two defeats in a row and won. They went away to Inter after a defeat and a draw and won. They went away to Sevilla after two defeats in a row and they’ve won again. You can never rule this team out.
2. Would Lucas Vázquez keep the right-back spot?
Dani Carvajal is out injured, but Álvaro Odriozola returned from injury this week and made the matchday squad. So, would he take the right-back spot or would Lucas Vázquez be trusted there again? The answer was that Zidane went for Lucas once again and the right winger delivered at right-back once again. He was hardly tested in the first half, but responded well when Sevilla started to attack down his side more often in the second half. Even in the absence of Carvajal, Odriozola has work to do if he wants to get back in the team. Right now, it’s Lucas’ place to lose.
3. Who would start in goals for Sevilla?
This was the big pre-match question from a Sevilla point of view as regular starter Bono had only just returned from coronavirus and wasn’t 100 percent, while backup Tomáš Vaclík suffered an injury in the moments before Sevilla’s defeat to Chelsea on Wednesday. That meant 20-year-old Alfonso Pastor had to play in the 4-0 thrashing by the English side, but there was a chance that Bono would be back for this weekend’s game. On Friday, Julen Lopetegui told the media that he still wasn’t sure about Bono’s status, but ultimately he did field the Moroccan… and it was clear that he wasn’t at his best. Bono was jittery from the very beginning and was ultimately at fault for the goal. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. We can’t expect players to immediately be 100 percent when they return from having had COVID-19.
1. Is Vinícius the best player at forcing own goals?
The goal with which Real Madrid won this Saturday’s match is surely going down as a Bono own goal as Vinícius’ slightest of touches wasn’t going to roll into the back of the net without the Sevilla goalkeeper’s intervention. But, it doesn’t matter! It’s yet another example of Vinícius provoking an own goal and they count just as much as ones that are 100 percent his. Remember the Kiko Olivas own goal he provoked against Real Valladolid? The Yahia Nader one against AI Ain in the Club World Cup? Even his Clásico goal in February – that did go down as Vinícius’ – took a huge deflection off Gerard Piqué. We can talk all we want about the Brazilian’s finishing, but the fact of the matter is that his mere presence makes things happen and forces opposition defenders and goalkeepers into difficult situations, situations that can end up in goals like today’s.
2. How many games in a row will Vinícius start?
With Eden Hazard out, this is a great opportunity for Vinícius to get a run in the team. He didn’t start in midweek against Shakhtar Donetsk, instead coming off the bench, but he was in from the off in this match at Sevilla. How many games can he start over these next few weeks? His best run as a starter for Real Madrid was with the 12 games in a row that he started across January and February of 2019. It may be some time before we again see the 20-year-old start a dozen games consecutively, but he can certainly enjoy a run in the side in Hazard’s absence.
3. Will the team be fatigued on Wednesday after just one substitution was made?
Zidane made just one substitution in this match, bringing on Marco Asensio for Rodrygo in the 66th minute. In his post-match press conference, the coach explained that he didn’t want to change things up because he liked the way the team was playing. It worked for this game and helped Los Blancos collect the three points, but could there be consequences on Wednesday against Borussia Mönchengladbach? Zidane always likes to shake up his starting line-up, but the vast majority of this Saturday’s 11 starters will also be in the starting line-up on Wednesday. Will they be tired? Will they have enough energy for the challenge? We’ll soon find out.