Gareth Bale back but Real Madrid missing Karim Benzema and others
Sevilla manager Unai Emery does not expect Real Madrid to be hampered by the loss of Karim Benzema as his side prepare for another meeting at the Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.
Emery watched his side lose 3-1 to Manchester City in the Uefa Champions League last week and now faces a Madrid side who have Gareth Bale back after missing the last four games through injury.
However, Madrid manager Rafael Benitez will still be without several key players for the trip south with Marcelo, Dani Carvajal and Keylor Navas joining Benzema on the sidelines.
Benzema is understood to have a thigh injury which meant he was also not part of France’s recent squad, while his off-field issues have also dominated headlines as he is being investigated for his part in a sex-tape scandal.
Benitez faced several questions about Benzema during his pre-match press conference, but preferred only to speak about footballing matters.
“He’s in the final stage of his recovery and we’ve decided to leave him here to get back to 100 per cent,” Benitez said. “Emotionally he’s well. I’m not going to say much. There’s been a statement from the club and there’s not much else to say.”
Despite the absence of Benzema and three first-choice defenders, Sevilla coach Emery is not expecting today’s match to be any easier.
He told Estadio Deportivo: “Our opponent is a favourite, along with Barcelona, to win the league. I see them well, (they are) very orderly, which gives them personality and security in many aspects of the game, which is very positive.
“They have players who know how to manage time ... so I do not think their ability is severely hampered by the absence of Benzema.”
Madrid are joint top with Barcelona, who host fifth-placed Villarreal earlier today.
Villarreal will have to contend with the red-hot attacking duo of Neymar and Luis Suarez who have been in terrific form since Barca lost Lionel Messi to a knee injury in September. Neymar and Suarez have combined for 17 goals to help the club clinch six wins in their past eight games in all competitions. Neymar, La Liga’s leading scorer with nine goals, said on his club’s official website: “Last season was the best in my life, but now I am in a great moment.
“We are doing a great job and that is important. But we have to be very calm.”
Barca and Real Madrid are level at the top of the table on 24 points, with Madrid ahead on goal difference. The Spanish giants meet in La Liga in two weeks.
Yesterday, Valencia’s Paco Alcacer and Dani Parejo both hit doubles in a surprise 5-1 away thrashing of high-flying Celta Vigo.
Valencia have not lived up to expectations so far this season following heavy investment in players, but the victory at Celta sees them move up to sixth place on 18 points.
Follow us on twitter at @NatSportUAE
Updated: November 7, 2015 04:00 AM