Tough King’s Cup tie as Real Madrid entertain Sevilla

Madrid, Jan 3 (IANS) Real Madrid and Sevilla play one of the most interesting football ties in the last 16 of the Spanish King’ s Cup knockout competition on Wednesday night when they clash in the Santiago Bernabeu stadium.

The game is the first Madrid will play since winning the World Club Championship in Japan on December 18 and it will be interesting to see how they return after a two and a half week break from football, reports Xinhua.

Goalkeeper Kiko Casilla will play with Keylor Navas being rested for the La Liga game at home versus bottom of the table Granada on Saturday. With a relatively straightforward looking game at the weekend, it will be interesting to see if Real head coach Zinedine Zidane picks his strongest side on Wednesday against the side which lost to Barcelona in last season’s Cup final.

Forward Gareth Bale is still sidelined, but he is Madrid’s only injury worry and players such as James Rodriguez and Isco will be looking for a place in the side, although that could be difficult with Casemiro, Tony Kroos and Luka Modric all available.

Sevilla are currently third in the league, just four behind and travel to Madrid after scoring 14 goals in the previous round against Formentera, winning 5-1 away and 9-1 at home against the lower category side.

Those wins showed that Sevilla are taking the Cup very seriously and chief coach Jorge Sampaoli can be expected to field his strongest side with midfielders Steven N’ Zonzi and Samir Nasri, who has recently been in the spotlight after it became known he had an intravenous treatment in an American clinic over the holidays.

With the return leg to be played next week this first leg may not be decisive, but it will be a barometer of how both sides kick off 2017 in which both harbour lofty ambitions.