Sevilla must retain their phenomenal home record when they host Levante tonight as they look to keep up with La Liga’s leading pack of teams.
But after a crushing 5-0 defeat at the Santiago Bernabéu, as well as transfer speculation concerning prized midfielder Steven N’Zonzi, this game may not be so straightforward.
Real Madrid have been far from their dazzling best this season, but found their Midas touch against the Andalusians, sweeping them aside with relative ease.
As for N’Zonzi – who has been instrumental for Eduardo Berizzo’s side this season – word has spread of a pricey move back to the Premier League and likely suitors Arsenal.
An exit for the Frenchman would destabilise Sevilla’s midfield, which has benefited from N’Zonzi’s presence since his arrival at the club. Talk of a move may have also destabilised the dressing room, if their Bernabéu blushes were anything to go by.
Berizzo needs a response from his team at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, where they have not lost for over a year. It will be interesting to see whether he gives starts to influential attacking duo Pablo Sarabia and Wissam Ben Yedder, who began the game against Real Madrid from the bench.
As for Levante, they are the division’s draw specialists so far, this season, having tied seven of their 15 league games – more than any other team.
Las Granotas also need to respond after they narrowly lost to Athletic Bilbao in the last round of La Liga fixtures.
A win against the Bilbao club would have seen them edge above the Basques, and into more comfortable mid-table territory.
Yet, the club – who currently sit fourteenth in the standings – are transformed from the side that were miserably relegated two years ago.
That said, Levante’s backline – which includes left-back Antonio Luna who began his career at Sevilla – will need to be at their best to shut out their opponent’s dangerous attack, which includes the aforementioned Sarabia and Ben Yedder, as well as the threat of tricky winger Nolito.
Given Sevilla’s imperious home record, another point would prove precious for Juan Ramón López Muniz and his side, in this Friday night appetiser for the weekend’s games.