Real Madrid have the chance to gain back some of the ground they’ve lost on the leading pack in La Liga Santander when they host Sevilla on Saturday (15:15 GMT).
Los Blancos were convincingly beaten at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan earlier in the season but haven’t won at the Santiago Bernabeu for over a decade.
Real Madrid boss Santiago Solari has called for his players to show some desire ahead of the decisive fixture: “Passion and motivation is necessary and unnegotiable to continue to keep pace with those at the top of the table.
“We have to play our own game which means going out to win from the first minute and being dominant at home.”Embed from Getty Images
Thibaut Courtois has been declared fit after a hip injury saw him miss the last three games. Keylor Navas has deputised impressively for the Belgian in his absence and Solari isn’t concerned as to who plays in goal.
“Madrid are lucky to have the two best goalkeepers in the world,” he said.
Gareth Bale, Marcos Llorente, Jesus Vallejo will all miss out with muscle injuries, Toni Kroos is a doubt for the same reason while Mariano is continuing to recover from a nerve problem.
Karim Benzema is expected to play after breaking his finger during last Sunday’s win over Real Betis.
“We don’t think the injury is too much of a problem to play,” confirmed Solari. “He is our reference in attack and he’s having a great year.”
Sevilla will be without Maxime Gonalons through injury while Roque Mesa is suspended.
Real Madrid (3-5-2): Courtois; Varane, Ramos, Nacho; Carvajal, Modric, Casemiro, Ceballos, Marcelo; Vinicius, Benzema.
Sevilla (3-5-2): Vaclik; Gnagnon, Kjaer, S. Gomez; J. Navas, Sarabia, Banega, F. Vazquez, Escudero; A. Silva, Ben Yedder.Embed from Getty Images
This fixture always seems to bring out the best in both teams’ attacks and the worst in their defences. There were seven goals during Sevilla’s last win at the Santiago Bernabeu in December 2008.
The Brazilians ran the show that day as Adriano, Romaric and Renato all netted in a 4-3 win that proved to be Bernd Schuster’s last league game in charge of Real Madrid.
Since then, Sevilla have lost on each of their last 13 visits in all competitions, including a 7-3 drubbing in 2013 that saw Cristiano Ronaldo score a hat-trick and Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema net braces.
Sevilla boss Pablo Machin was on the end of a similar result last season when he took his Girona side to the Bernabeu, coming away on the wrong end of a 6-3 scoreline.