With Real Madrid seeking to set a record of going unbeaten in 40 consecutive matches, the task has not been made any easier by news on Wednesday that Cristiano Ronaldo would miss Thursday’s second leg Copa del Rey tie against Sevilla.
Despite a 3-0 first leg lead, Zinedine Zidane’s team know that Sevilla under new manager, Jorge Sampaoli, are a different kind of beast.
Sevilla beat Real Sociedad 4-0 away in their last La Liga, a result that would have buoyed the home team as they prepare to face unbeaten Real Madrid in two games in four days.
Real Madrid also beat Granada 5-0 to make it 39 matches unbeaten but there is clear and present danger that they could lose to Sevilla because of absences of Ronaldo, Luka Modric, Isco, and James Rodriguez, who scored two goals in the first leg.
Zidane explained on his club’s website, “James felt something in his calf again and we will not take any risks," Zidane explained.
"From here to the end of the season we’ll have difficult matches, this is one of them and we’ll always have to fight.
“Tomorrow [Thursday] we’ll have to overcome problems, I’m sure about that. They are going to come out strongly. I know how football is and when you lose 3-0, the start of the game is going to be tough and difficult.
“We have to be ready at the start of the game. Then we’ll see how the game evolves. We’re looking forward to a very tough game and we’re going to have to overcome problems, I’m sure of that.”
After Thursday’s encounter, Real will face the same opponents on Sunday in a La Liga with Zidane saying they would take the steps one at a time.
“I can’t do anything about it, it is what it is. Tomorrow we have to go to Seville and on Sunday too.
“The only downside is having to travel but we can’t help it. We can rotate a player on the basis that we have several games coming up.”
"It will be two important games for us, it is a vital week,” Zidane added.