Real Madrid Right the Ship Against Sevilla

Real Madrid stepped off of the field after their defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in the midst of a crisis. They hadn’t looked like Real Madrid in any of their games this season, and the 3-0 loss to PSG was simply unacceptable. So, they came out on Sunday night and did what they had to do; controlled Sevilla and set themselves up for a real title challenge.

Real Madrid Bounce Back Against Sevilla

On it From the Start

When Real Madrid stepped onto the field Sunday in Seville you could already see the difference. After a terrible performance in Paris, they needed to step up in a hostile environment. Sevilla is one of the toughest places to go in Spanish football, and they really crank it up when Madrid come to town.

Sevilla have got off to a flying start this season. They’re top of La Liga after four games and have only allowed one goal in the process. They may have thought they could get one over on a wounded Madrid side, but Zinedine Zidane’s side were ready to show their failure in Paris was just a fluke.

They had the added bonus of the return of Sergio Ramos. The captain left last week’s game right before they blew the lead, and missed the game in Paris, but when he came back he was imperious and exactly what Zinedine Zidane needed.

The Tactics

To his credit, Zidane played this game perfectly. It’s no secret that Sevilla, under Julen Lopetegui, want to keep the ball and play. That was supposedly the reason Florentino Perez hired him to replace Zidane in the first place, but these Real Madrid players are not built to control the game – they thrive at the height of chaos.

Players with this level of talent and understanding don’t need a strict structure to create solid possession. However, they do absolutely need a strict defensive structure and an understanding of that structure to succeed. That structure was pretty simple against Sevilla; trackback.

It’s hard to quantify how much better the defence can be when players like Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale are tracking back correctly. With so much value placed in wide-play and attacking full-backs, getting your wingers to trackback can be vital. Hazard and Bale found themselves doing all kinds of dirty work on Sunday, and it got them a win.

Their work is what allowed Real Madrid to go on the road and keep a clean sheet. Sevilla don’t have high-quality players to unlock a resolute defence in a situation like this, and Madrid have the quality to stay defensive with the hope that eventually Dani Carvajal will clip a ball over the top for Karim Benzema to head home.

Real Madrid in Crisis?

This win puts most of the crisis talk to bed for now. Spanish media had already started tapping up Jose Mourinho as a potential replacement again, but there won’t be much about this performance that Zidane will be able to use going forward. Yes, they defended quite well against a team that wanted to attack them, but how many teams in La Liga want to do that?

Zidane has always said that the league is a harder trophy to win than the Champions League, and he wants the league again. He’s trying to build a team that has the consistency required to win a 38 game campaign, and after no clean sheets in their first four La Liga fixtures, it was time to lock it down.

They need to build on this performance and take the next step. They play Osasuna at the Bernabeu on Wednesday and they need a big win. Not because Osasuna are that bad, they took points of Barcelona already, but because at Real Madrid, domination and league titles are expected.

The Derby

Once they get by Osasuna they will face their first real test, a trip to Atletico Madrid. Real Madrid are going to have payback on the mind after being drubbed in a preseason game. Atletico had been flying high since that win, however, two draws and a defeat in their last three has dampened the mood.

If anything, it means they will be jacked up when Real Madrid come to the Wanda Metropolitano. They are most likely going to have to replicate the same type of performance that they had this weekend. Real certainly have the talent to replicate that performance, and whether or not they do says everything about their title chances.

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