Sevilla v Real Madrid, La Liga, October 4, 2009
The top of La Liga has a familiar look to it. Both Real Madrid and Barcelona have so far claimed five successive victories and it looks likely that only third placed Sevilla have a chance to mount a challenge on the title.
This weekend could see some major movement at the top of the table as Barcelona face Almeria at home and after scoring seven goals in two games against them last season will surely claim all three points. On Sunday, Sevilla host Manuel Pellegrini and the second version of the Galacticos as the home side aim to prove that they will be in the mix this season.
Judging by the quality of their squad and the results so far there is no reason Sevilla cannot win this encounter and stay close to the two biggest clubs in Spain. The home side responded to their opening day defeat at Valencia with six successive victories in La Liga and the Champions League.
In three of those wins Sevilla have scored four goals and the options available to Manolo Jimenez up front are some of the strongest in all of Europe. The first choice front two of Luis Fabiano and Fredi Kanoute (16/5 for either Fabiano or Kanoute to score first) have been a stunning strike force for some time and the Brazilian, with four goals in six games so far this season, looks set to be a star of the World Cup.
Such has been their form that former Real Madrid striker Alvaro Negredo (10/3 to score first) has struggled for playing time since his move from the Bernabeu in the summer. The 24-year-old striker is clinical in front of goal and if he gets the opportunity could well stick one past Casillas on Sunday night.
Sevillaâ€™s strength is not only up front though, they have conceded just one goal in their last five league games and have strength throughout the side. Didier Zokora (33/1 to score last) and Renato (11/2 to score) provide a solid midfield base which is further aided behind them by French defenders Sebastien Squillaci and Julien Escude. This defensive solidity is crucial to let the flair wide players, Jesus Navas (6/1 to score) and Diego Capel strut their stuff.
So, how will Galacticos 2.0 fare at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan? The Los Blancos defence, currently the stingiest in the division, having conceded just two goals in six games will have a thorough working over. (Madrid are 11/8 to keep a clean sheet.) It has been mooted over the last few weeks that Florentino Perezâ€™s second coming is based on surer foundations (e.g. the signings of Raul Albiol and Xabi Alonso) and Casillas and co will have to be defensively excellent.
Further forward Manuel Pellegrini has shown a lot of faith in Guti (5/1 to score) who has revelled in a scheming role from deep so far this season. On Wednesday night at home to Marseille in the Champions League the front three was Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Karim Benzema and you hardly need this author to tell you that they can score goals. (9/2 for Ronaldo & Benzema to score.)
CR9 is a doubt after picking up an injury winning the penalty for the second goal against OM, but he will likely start and, love him or loath him, you cannot argue with the statistics. Nine goals in seven games tells its own story and whilst the money paid by Madrid may have been obscene, the Portuguese winger will pay it back in goals. (Ronaldo is 13/2 to score a brace.)
Last season Real Madrid won this fixture 4-2 with Raul starring with a hat-trick, after Sevilla had won at the Bernabeu 4-3. There should be goals yet again, but if Real Madrid do lose, the reaction will tell us a lot about Galacticos 2.0.
101gg predicts: Sevilla 3 â€“ Real Madrid 3 (50/1)
Full match odds here.