This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Real Madrid have a pretty rough trip away from home this weekend.
After an equally difficult mid-week game against PSG, that saw Los Blancos beaten 3-0, Zinedine Zidane’s troops will be heading to Sevilla.
The key to getting back to winning ways, then, might rest on James Rodriguez’s shoulders.
Real haven’t registered a win in Andalusia since the 2014/15 season and have lost in each of the last four league visits to Estadio Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan.
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But despite their most recent defeat in the French capital, Los Blancos still have a lot to fight for. After all, this is just the beginning of the season and the footballing year is nothing if not long.
And looking ahead at Sunday’s game, Rodriguez just might be key in overcoming Sevilla’s own midfield general – Ever Banega.
On Sunday night we will see a battle in the heart of the midfield as Real Madrid’s Colombian takes on Sevilla’s Argentine veteran.
Banega is one of the key pieces of Sevilla’s arsenal and outshining him will be crucial for Los Blancos.
Of course, the ideal solution would be to shut him down completely but Real have yet to keep a clean sheet this season; they might simply have to outscore their opposition.
And Rodriguez has the ability to make a difference. So far, in his two La Liga outings, he has registered one assist, 3.5 shots, and 3.5 key passes per game. By all standards, absolutely wonderful figures for the Colombian.
But Banega is not really far behind either. Even though he has played a game more than Rodriguez, he has still tallied one assist, 1.7 shots, 2.3 key passes and also two dribbles per game.
Just by looking at those numbers, the clash between the two sounds rather exciting and it’s fair to assume that whoever manages to establish dominance just might give his team a big advantage on the night.
If Real are to come out will all three points, they need James to win this battle.