Real Madrid need to bounce back after their midweek Champions League loss. Photo: Charles Platiau/Reuters
Real Madrid need to bounce back after their midweek Champions League loss. Photo: Charles Platiau/Reuters

Shaken Real Madrid visit leaders Sevilla for Lopetegui reunion

Time of article published Sep 19, 2019

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BARCELONA  Shaken from a bruising Champions League defeat by Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid face La Liga leaders Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan on Sunday in what will be another demanding test.

Madrid were thrashed 3-0 by an under-strength PSG in Paris on Wednesday and Zinedine Zidane's side must dust themselves down before the trip to Andalusia.

Julen Lopetegui, sacked by Madrid last season, has taken unbeaten Sevilla top of the league after four games with 10 points, two clear of third place Real.

The former Spain coach will have a point to prove, as will left back Sergio Reguilon, on loan at Sevilla from Real.

Zidane didn't believe the defender was ready to play for Madrid and signed Ferland Mendy from Olympique Lyon to compete with Marcelo for the spot.

"We have to play a different way (against Sevilla)," said Zidane after the PSG defeat. "We are not happy with what we saw here but that's that.

"We lacked a lot of intensity, lost our battles and if you do that it's difficult. Here we're all in the same boat. When we win, we all win, and when we lose, we all lose."

Zidane was appointed in March after Santiago Solari replaced Lopetegui and was then sacked himself.

Lopetegui earned five wins in six games but then just one of the next seven and was fired after a 5-1 defeat by Barcelona in October 2018.

The coach said he would make changes to his side for their trip to face Qarabag in Baku in the Europa League on Thursday, to keep players fresh to face Madrid.

"It's possible I'll use some new players, who haven't participated so far," the coach told reporters.

"We have a big squad, all the players are valid options."

Barcelona visit Granada on Saturday as they bid to end a bad run of results away from home.

After last season's 4-0 capitulation in the Champions League against Liverpool in the semi-final second leg, the Catalans have failed to win on the road in seven matches across all competitions.

In La Liga this season they suffered a 1-0 defeat at Athletic Bilbao and then drew 2-2 at Osasuna.

Barcelona, fifth, won't find it easy against sixth-place Granada, who have started the season well.

Lionel Messi, who appeared from the bench against Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday for his first game of the season after injury, may start.

"(Messi) is like any player who hasn't had a pre-season," said coach Ernesto Valverde after Barcelona's 0-0 draw in Germany.

"He's had to play in a game at an incredible pace, which had already started, all without preparation. It was his first 30 minutes, he did enough."

Atletico Madrid, who came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Juventus in the Champions League on Wednesday, host Celta Vigo on Saturday.  

The weekend's other fixtures are Osasuna v Real Betis, Villarreal v Real Valladolid, Levante v Eibar, Getafe v Real Mallorca, Espanyol v Real Sociedad, Valencia v Leganes and Athletic Bilbao v Alaves.


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