Sevilla eye Champions League last 16; Real Madrid must win in Lisbon
Lisbon, Nov 21 (IANS) Reigning champions Real Madrid will face Sporting Lisbon knowing nothing but a win will be a disappointment as their superstar Cristiano Ronaldo returns to his alma mater in the Champions League football tournament here on Tuesday.
Madrid are two points behind Borussia Dortmund in their group and need to win in Lisbon or risk finishing second in their group and facing a tougher rival in the knockout stage, reports Xinhua.
Morale is high in the Madrid camp after Ronaldo’s hat-trick sealed a vital away win against Atletico Madrid in La Liga on Saturday and that feel-good factor could continue with the return of captain Sergio Ramos to action.
The reigning champions beat Sporting Lisbon thanks to two late goals in their first meeting, which should serve as a warning that their rivals have to be taken more seriously than Madrid took Legia Warsaw in the 3-3 draw in Poland earlier in the tournament.
Reigning Europa League champions Sevilla will book their place in the last 16 if they are able to take a point when Italian champions Juventus visit their Sanchez Pizjuan stadium on Tuesday.
Jorge Sampaoli’s side go into the game top of their qualifying group with a two-point lead over the Italians and a six-point advantage over Olympique Lyon. If Lyon fail to win away against Dinamo Zagreb, that would also see Sevilla through irrespective of their result.
Nevertheless a win for the Spaniards would not only see them qualify from their group, but also put them into the last 16 as the group winners.
Sevilla can expect a packed house in front of their fans, who are so far delighted with the football displayed under Sampaoli, who has shown a tactical flexibility to allow his players to adapt their style of play in relation to their rivals.
They are currently third in La Liga after a 3-2 win away to Deportivo la Coruna on Saturday.
With their morale sky high, they will be expected to seal last 16 qualification.