Sevilla’s title challenge to be tested by Atletico Madrid

Atletico Madrid

Sevilla may be Real
Madrid’s most likely challengers in La Liga this season and they have a chance
to prove it on Saturday when they face the defending champions Atletico Madrid.

Atletico’s defeat last weekend in the Madrid derby leaves
them 13 points off the top but Sevilla in second are at least slightly closer,
sitting eight points behind the leaders with a game in hand.

Neither side can afford to be cast further adrift at the
Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan especially as even a Covid-depleted Real Madrid will be
expected to win again at home to Cadiz on Sunday.

Sevilla’s lofty position is no fluke after they pushed
Atletico, Real Madrid and Barcelona hard for the title last season, only to
fall away with five games to go.

They also won the Europa League in 2020 under Julen
Lopetegui, who is now targeting a third consecutive top-four finish, which
would be a first for the club in more than half a century.

The question though is whether Sevilla can now take the next
step and start beating the best teams to the biggest trophies.

In the Champions League, they have already been found
wanting, after finishing third in a group they might have been expected to win.
Instead, one victory in six matches against Lille, Salzburg and Wolfsburg meant
they failed to make the last 16.

The result is a return to the Europa League, where they will
be among the favourites to regain the trophy they lifted 18 months ago.

But a more accurate gauge of progress will come in La Liga,
where they have a realistic chance, if not of overhauling Real Madrid, of being
their main rivals in the second half of the season.

Madrid’s reliance on a narrow core of players, not to
mention their own focus on the Champions League, could even offer their closest
challengers hope in the coming weeks.

Questions over attack

To be in contention, Sevilla will have to find a
breakthrough against the leading lights in the division, against whom they have
traditionally struggled.

Last season, they won only one of their six league games
against the top three and this season, they have already lost to Real Madrid,
with Atletico to come on Saturday and Barcelona next week.

And while Sevilla currently boast the best defence in La
Liga, having conceded just 11 goals from their opening 16 games, doubts remain
about their potency in attack.

They have scored 13 fewer goals than Real Madrid and Rafa
Mir, their top scorer on five, is only the 10th highest scorer in Spain.
Youssef En-Nesyri was a revelation last season but has seen this one disrupted
by injury.

Sevilla needed extra-time and penalties to beat Andratx from
Spain’s fourth tier in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, with Atletico and Barca
up next before La Liga’s Christmas break.

Given the rising number of Covid cases and the chaos caused
by postponed games in the Premier League in England, La Liga might be relieved
to have the upcoming stoppage.

Real Madrid have been hit hard, with the club confirming
this week that Marcelo, Luka Modric, Marco Asensio, Gareth Bale, Rodrygo and
Andriy Lunin had all tested positive ahead of Sunday’s game against Cadiz.

Barcelona, who are eighth, will be looking to kickstart
their pursuit of the top four on Saturday when they face Elche at Camp Nou
while Real Sociedad, in fifth, play at home to Villarreal, in 13th.

Author: desi123 is an online news portal that aims to provide the latest trendy news for Asians living in Asia and around the World.

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