Magic Modric wills Real Madrid to victory over Sevilla
It wasn't always easy but goals from Modric and Casemiro in the second half helped Real Madrid to all three points against Sevilla on Saturday at the Santiago Bernabéu.
Real Madrid 2-0 Sevilla: match report
Real Madrid jumped Sevilla into third in LaLiga with a 2-0 win on Saturday afternoon at the Santiago Bernabéu. It wasn't always easy but their second half display and insistence bore fruit with late goals from Casemiro and Luka Modric to wrap up all three points.
Solari left Iso and Marcelo on the bench again as Ceballos got a start along with Karim Benzema despite him nursing a broken finger. He returned to the trusty 4-3-3 after last week's appearance of a three-man defence against Real Betis.
Real Madrid have the brighter of starts but they only had a tame Vinicius shot to show for it along with a mixture of crosses of varying quality. Sevilla grew into the game as it progressed and they had the best chance of the half when Ever Banega teed up Sergio Escudero as he blazed into the side netting.
It didn't get much better for Real Madrid as Sevilla took over until Mateu Lahoz whistled for half-time.
Solari kept faith with his starting eleven and it paid off. The Real Madrid side that showed up for the second half was aggressive, intense, defensively solid and, well, like Real Madrid tend to be at home against anyone.
They had chances through Modric, whose effort hit the side netting. Casemiro saw a header that went just wide. Ceballos rattled the crossbar and Vinicius chipped just wide too. It seemed like it was only a matter of time as Pablo Machín took off both his strikers in an effort to shut the home side down.
He wasn't planning on Casemiro going over his defence though with a strike from outside the box. Vaclik got a reaching hand to it but it could not match the might of the strike. Luka Modric sealed things with almost the last kick off the game to cap of a man of the match performance. He won the ball back after some nice pressure and slotted home.
Sevilla welcome Barcelona during the week in the Copa del Rey but for now, they'll be ruing the chance to keep pressure on the league leaders while seperating themselves from Real Madrid in the race for a more comfortable path into the Champions League.
Real Madrid vs Sevilla live online: match updates and commentary
Real Madrid vs Sevilla live online: preview
Real Madrid and Sevilla are locked on 33 points in third and fourth place in LaLiga. The former are coming off a strange victory over Real Betis in which they sustained mountains of pressure for long spells of the second half only to be bailed out by a Dani Ceballos free-kick while Sevilla were beaten well by a resurgent Athletic Bilbao side thanks to two Iñaki Williams goals. When you consider Sevilla's recent poor form at the stadium in the capital and Real Madrid's bewildering performances to start the season, anything could happen at 16:15 CET on Saturday afternoon.
This game could make or break Santiago Solari's reign as the manager of Real Madrid after a tough start to 2019. Thibaut Courtois is back from his injury but Keylor Navas is out now with a fresh setback. Toni Kroos and Marcos Llorente, Gareth Bale, Marco Asensio, Jesus Vallejo and Mariano Diaz all remain out but Karim Benzema is back after suffering a broken finger last weekend. Isco, we can only assume, will not start either as his relationship with Solari continues to confound. Last week against Betis, Solari left out Marcelo and changed to five at the back to match Quique Setien's system and it worked, kind of. They won, of that there is no doubt, but they were battered for long spells in the second half. He also said Marcelo is still vital and he was just rested for the game but it remains to be seen how he lines out against Machín, who also favours three at the back.
Roque Mesa is the only short term absentee for Sevilla along with Maxime Gonalons, who has an ankle injury. Nolito has a broken leg and is out for some time yet. Pablo Machín has been backed in the transfer market and Munir was signed followed by Maximilian Wöber. They do need signings given their involvement in the Europa League and their drive for Champions League football. The later is not in the squad but the former Barcelona striker will be looking to play some minutes. They will be looking for revenge for last season's 5-0 loss at the hands of their opponents on Saturday.