Sevilla 2-3 Real Madrid (Rodrygo Goes, Nacho Fernández & Benzema). Here is the immediate reaction to the dramatic win. Still to come: press conference best bits, player ratings and a post game podcast.
For the bulk of the 2021/22 season, Sevilla have been the only rival in the title race for Real Madrid - and although the resurgence of Barcelona of late has added their name to the mixer, it still feels like Sevilla pose the biggest threat of an upset. Perhaps that could be because of this visit to the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán coming at an awkward time with attention largely on Europe after the quarter final success against Chelsea. Both Ferland Mendy and Marcelo were out of this one, so Dani Carvajal started at left-back and Lucas Vázquez filled in on the right. Eduardo Camavinga started in midfield as Casemiro was suspeneded, and Fede Valverde continued to operate out-wide. The bench was a lot smaller due to all of the absentees, but only Rafa Marín was called up from Castilla to take a seat. Karim Benzema captained the team this evening.
It became clear very early on that Sevilla had worked hard in preparation for this game, and they executed a high pressured game plan from the start - trying to push Madrid back and force them to make mistakes in possession. It was obvious that Madrid’s build up was mired by the Champions League as they didn’t look ready to match the intensity of the hosts. The first decent chance came when Anthony Martial shot wide from distance. Madrid’s attitude was summed up when Luka Modrić gave away a silly free-kick on the edge of the box, which was snuck in by his compatriot Ivan Rakitić who pounced whilst the wall was unorganised. Events worsened four minutes later when the defence crumbled and allowed Jesús Corona to draw out Thibaut Courtois before finding Erik Lamela for the easy finish. Eduardo Camavinga received a warranted yellow card after a late challenge, and could have been off after putting in another questionable tackle - but the referee thought nothing of it. Madrid looked mute in attack as well, creating very few chances. Karim Benzema spun Jules Koundé but his resulting shot will be the easiest save that Yassine Bounou will ever have to make. Half time arrived with the hosts leading 2-0.
Camavinga isn't a DM either. There is no 'solution' without Casemiro unless you change your style of play because there is no back-up anchor in the team. Have to pick your poison. But if you play Kroos as the 6 you have to control the game and counter-press to minimize damage— Kiyan Sobhani (@KiyanSo) April 17, 2022
Camavinga was pulled at half time to keep 11 men on the pitch, and Rodyrgo Goes came on in his place. The second half started brighter, with Benzema hitting the keepers hands with more power than his last effort. This was enough to encourage Madrid forward, and they took advantage of this shift by scoring their first goal. Vinícius Júnior linked up with Dani Carvajal, whose low cross was eaten up by Rodrygo to keep his scoring run going. Madrid continued to push, as Éder Militão decided to try his luck from a long way out and forced the keeper to push the ball over the bar. Sevilla were a shadow of their first half selves, and if Madrid could keep up the tempo then a positive result was on the cards. Rafa Mir reminded the visitors that Sevilla weren’t completely dead after he headed a huge chance way over the bar after a good move. This only led to a lot of drama, as Vinícius Júnior apparently gave Madrid the equaliser, but it was ruled out for a questionable hand ball decision after the Brazilian took the ball down on what looked like his chest before scoring. After a hefty VAR check, the referee doubled down on his decision to rule the goal out, much to the bemusement of the Madrid players and officials. The actual equaliser did arrive not long later, as Nacho Fernández headed the ball home with his first touch since coming on as a substitute to get Madrid back in the game. There wasn’t long left to claim the winner, but Madrid didn’t care. Karim Benzema combined with Vinícius Júnior and Rodyrgo Goes before drifting into the box and beating the keeper from close range to seal the win. Mariano Díaz almost extended the lead but his lob was well saved. The victory not only demonstrated Real Madrid’s title worthy resilience, but keeps them up to nine points clear of Barcelona when all games in hand are played. How good was that?! Catch the post game podcast to relive the all of drama again with Kiyan dropping later on tonight.