Madrid face must win game

2015-05-01 18:01
Real Madrid (AFP)

Madrid - European champions Real Madrid will need to inflict Sevilla's first home defeat in over 13 months to realistically maintain their bid for the La Liga title when they visit the Sanchez Pizjuan on Saturday.

Los Blancos trail Barcelona by two points at the top of the table with four games remaining and also have to contend with the daunting trip to Andalucia just four days before they travel to face Juventus in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final.

However, Sevilla are also desperate for the points as they battle with Valencia for the fourth Champions League place for next season.

"It will be very difficult, like all the games we have left," Madrid captain Iker Casillas admitted.

"Our most important game right now is on Saturday. It is against a very strong team at home, who have been solid all season. Moreover, they are fighting for the Champions League places and are in the semi-finals of the Europa League.

"It will be a great game for the fans, but there are three vital points at stake because we need to win our games and hope Barcelona slip-up."

Madrid should be boosted by the return of Gareth Bale from a calf injury, but Karim Benzema won't be risked ahead of the trip to Turin in midweek.

Sevilla beat Madrid at home last season at the beginning of their unbeaten run with Carlos Bacca scoring twice in a 2-1 victory.

The Colombian bagged another brace as Sevilla stretched their unbeaten run in all competitions to eight games with a 3-1 win at Eibar on Wednesday and is confident home support can drive them onto another big three points.

"At home we have been playing very well. It is a great game and with our fans there is great excitement," said Bacca.

"We are getting closer to our objectives and we need to fight for them. We need to win all the remaining games. At home we beat them last season, I don't see why we can't again."

On paper Barcelona have a far easier task this weekend as they travel to rock bottom Cordoba, who could be mathematically relegated.

Cordoba are 11 points from safety having now won in 16 games stretching back to January and their return to the top-flight after a 43-year absence will come to an end unless they pull off a monumental upset at the Nuevo Arcangel.

However, Barca will also have Champions League preparations on their minds as they host former boss Pep Guardiola and German champions Bayern Munich on Tuesday.

Boss Luis Enrique made four changes for the 6-0 thrashing of Getafe in midweek, but granted the full 90 minutes to his star strike trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar as they moved onto a combined 102 goals for the season.

Enrique has a fully-fit squad to choose from and defender Marc Bartra hailed the former Barca captain's management of the squad this season to ensure they have come into the decisive part of the campaign as fresh as possible.

"We have worked very well on the physical side of things since pre-season. As well as psychologically because when there are rotations, when you know that at any moment you could play, you are always prepared.

"This is what he has done to ensure now we are in good condition."

Atletico Madrid can strengthen their hold on third place when Athletic Bilbao visit the Vicente Calderon on Saturday.

Fernando Torres's winner at Villarreal in midweek ensured Diego Simeone's men remain on course for a direct return to the Champions League next season and the former Liverpool and Chelsea striker could be rewarded with a start ahead of the misfiring Mario Mandzukic.

Read more on:    real madrid  |  la liga  |  soccer

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