Football

Sevilla dreaming of big things this season

Defender Escudero believes 
in-form Sevilla can achieve something special 
this season

SEVILLA v BARCELONA

(Tomorrow, 3.40am, StarHub TV Ch 213)

Sevilla defender Sergio Escudero believes his side could achieve "something big" this season, as they prepare to put their impressive unbeaten run on the line against Barcelona.

The 4-0 Champions League drubbing of Dinamo Zagreb on Wednesday means Sevilla have now won six of seven matches since their last loss - a 3-1 defeat by Athletic Bilbao.

That reverse is the only one Sevilla have suffered in 14 La Liga and Champions League matches this term under new coach Jorge Sampaoli and has left them handily placed both domestically and in Europe.

The Andalusian side are no strangers to recent success, winning the Europa League in each of the last three years, but Escudero feels this season could yet bring something extra special.

He said on his club's website: "We have a very competitive squad, with a lot of quality and a winning mentality.

"The team are improving as the games and months go by and we can dream about doing something big this season."

Whether that means fighting for a first Spanish title since 1946 or going all the way in the Champions League remains to be seen, but Sevilla will have a better idea of what they can achieve after the visit of last season's double-winners Barca tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

Luis Enrique's men suffered a 3-1 defeat by Manchester City in the Champions League in midweek, but goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen says they cannot dwell on that setback.

He told radio station RAC1: "We aren't machines. It is what it is and sometimes you slip up at times when you don't want to.

"Nobody wants to be beaten, but that is what happened and you need to lift yourselves and continue playing."

Barca head to fourth-placed Sevilla sitting second in La Liga, two points behind a Real Madrid side who themselves only just managed to avoid a European defeat by unfancied Legia Warsaw on Wednesday.

Real needed an 85th-minute equaliser to salvage a 3-3 draw in Poland, having earlier surrendered a 2-0 lead, and fans will expect an emphatic response tonight when Zinedine Zidane's side host struggling Leganes in the early kick-off.

Zidane insists his squad of superstars can't rest on their laurels and the Frenchman wants a more rounded performance from his side tonight.

"I always think that I have the best squad in the world but, at the same time, that is not enough," said Zidane yesterday.

"We need to go out onto the pitch and always play at our top level for 90 minutes.

CONSISTENCY

"To be consistent is the hardest thing in football."

Despite their unbeaten run and still enjoying a two-point lead at the top of La Liga, Real haven't kept a clean sheet in 10 games in all competitions.

Zidane will once again be without his preferred central defensive pairing of captain Sergio Ramos and Pepe due to injury, but called on the whole team to defend better as a unit.

"It doesn't worry me. I don't like conceding goals and the players like it even less, but it is a question for everyone, not just the four defenders," added Zidane.

"We can all improve and what I am going to try to do is impose more calm."

Real have received a big injury boost, though, with the return of Luka Modric after a month on the sidelines due to knee surgery.

The Croat is likely to start on the bench against Leganes, but Zidane hopes to hand Modric some game time in the second half.

"He is in the squad. The idea is that he will have minutes and we'll see tomorrow," said Zidane.

"The important thing is that he is okay and has completely recovered."

Zidane confirmed that Karim Benzema will miss out due to a hamstring problem, so Alvaro Morata will join Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo in attack. - Wire Services.


RESULTS

  • Malaga 3 Sporting Gijon 2
  • Granada 1 Deportivo la Coruna 1

FIXTURES

This morning

  • Real Sociedad v Atletico Madrid
  • Osasuna v Alaves
  • Las Palmas v Eibar

Today

  • Real Madrid v Leganes (7pm)
  • Celta Vigo v Valencia (11.15pm)
  • Espanyol v Athletic Bilbao (11.15pm)

Tomorrow

  • Villarreal v Real Betis (1.30am)
  • Sevilla v Barcelona (3.45am)
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