The Europa League holders have played 12 games [1080 minutes] more than Elche this season, 42:30, the latest of which was the remarkable 3-1 win at Villarreal on Thursday night. That means that in their last seven matches they’ve won five, drawn won and scored three+ goals on five occasions.
Five star stuff.
Add in the fact that it was a year yesterday that Sevilla last lost at home in any competition and the size of Elche’s task is clearer. As a handy guide – of the 16 goals Sevilla have scored in those last seven games Vitolo has 5, Gameiro 3, Bacca 2 and there have been a smattering of own goals and penalties for both sides. Bacca was rested on Thursday and thus should start, Iborra who also got two in the last seven and two against Elche the last time this fixture was played, is suspended. Vitolo took a knock on his knee at Villarreal, couldn’t train Friday and is a doubt. Elche, for their part, are rather more troubled.
The league is investigating €2.5m missing from the club coffers around about the time that they needed a result against Málaga in order to avoid relegation. Two of their ‘ultra’ supporters were jailed for violent behaviour this week. Aarón Ñíguez is carrying a knock, centre half Sergio Pelegrín is definitely out and Adrián González is suspended.
Back Bacca, back Mbia, watch out for a post-Europe slump, and if you fancy Elche to shock back Jonathas because he’s their motor for goals and assist. But even if Sevilla need to come from behind, they should have sufficient to take three points here. 2-1
- Hunter’s Choice: Sevilla to win 2-1 at 7/1
Carlo Ancelotti is one laid-back dude. So laid-back that he’s had to defend himself recently: “I won three Champions League’s with this ‘easy-going’ coaching style” he drawled the other day.
And with that nature, one of his sayings is: “Even after the worst defeat, the sun will still rise the next morning”
So, given the appalling week Madrid have had, this needs to be Dawn and the darkest hour needs to have been the 4-3 home defeat to Schalke. Either that or President Florentino trying to put out the fire with gasoline by not only giving the dreaded vote of confidence but then refusing to guarantee that it applied beyond May.
Take the injuries into account, take loss of form into account, take accumulated mental and physical tiredness into account – fine. But, right now, Madrid’s major problem is that their collective confidence is fractured. The strikers don’t believe the defence, particularly Iker, will keep the ball out and the defence don’t believe the strikers are working hard enough. There’s more finger-pointing than at a proctologists’ training course.
The midfield? They are like Scotty in the original Starship Enterprise – beetling about looking busy and shouting ‘We cannae take any more Cap’n’ A statistical representation of that fact is that Madrid ran TEN kilometres less than Schalke in that defeat. Horrifying. So – how to call this one? First off it’s likely that Luka Modric will start. Vital to have him back, but impossible for him to hit maximum performance, or max-stamina, immediately after four months out. Not only is Kroos knackered, he and Isco are each one booking away from missing the match at the Camp Nou next Sunday. Hard to see them both starting.
Casillas had an absolute stinker against Schalke and Keylor playing against his old club can’t be ruled out. But the emphasis lies on whether Ronaldo’s form is returning, two goals in midweek, or it’s time to drop either Benzema or Bale so that Jesé [worth an anytime bet] can start. Ronaldo’s the good bet [NINE in his last six against Levante] but Ramos [anytime] should also return and, boy, he loves a goal to save the team when they are in shtuck.
Levante, it has to be noted, have only ever won once at the Bernabéu, tend to concede barrow-loads and have the worst goals-against record in the division.
Madrid may feel they only need to stop David Barral [anytime] – since he signed for the club he’s scored twelve goals and that’s been good enough for eleven victories.
Given that you won’t win money from Paddy on whether Madrid play either convincingly or attractively this weekend, only the result, back them to produce the goals to win by a couple.
- Hunter’s Choice: Real Madrid to win by exactly two goals at 7/2