Real and Remon lose the plot

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Mariano Garcia Remon's bizarre tinkering combined with an abysmal display heaped more misery on Real Madrid against Sevilla as they sank to gutless 1-0 home defeat.

A solid display by Sevilla, who could have easily scored more but for Iker Casillas in the Real goal, moves them into third place.

Real Madrid hosted Seville in the Bernabeu in a must-win game which saw coach Garcia Remon bringing in Michael Owen in place of Ronaldo. Owen was partnered up-front by Raul and David Beckham reverted to his right midfield slot after spending the weekend's game on the bench.

In the stands, new director Arrigo Saachi was present alongside Emilio Butragueno, and he would have only seen more questions than answers.

Owen and Raul both had good chances on the quarter-hour mark, but shot straight at keeper Esteban when it seemed easier to score.

Sevilla then stunned the Bernabeu on 18 minutes, when more lax defending from big-signing Walter Samuel let in Brazilian star Julio 'The Beast' Baptista.

Baptista was La Liga's second top scorer last year behind compatriot Ronaldo and he showed why with a classy finish past Casillas, who had that familiar 'where is my defence?' look on his face.

It should have been two on 28 minutes but for heroics from Casillas, who blocked superbly with his feet to deny defender Daniel Alves who really should have scored.

Real Madrid looked strong in patches and created some decent chances with Owen and Figo going close. But they seem to be lacking the belief and conviction that are pre-requisites in a team of such names, which was aptly illustrated when Figo unfurled a quite outrageous dive when in on goal and was duly booked.

Remon, perhaps feeling the glare of Florentino Perez and Sacchi from the stands, sent Ronaldo on for Beckham for the start of the second-half, reducing the English contingent by half. He then, bizarrely, withdrew Owen on 61 minutes - easily Real's most effective player - much to the disgust of the restless Madrilenos.

Casillas's one-man defiance continued with another fine stop from Baptista, who on another night would have scored a hat-trick.

Real looked ragged and bereft of ideas throughout and were reduced to punting hopeful balls into Seville's box. Ronaldo did have the ball in the net on 83 minutes after a skilful chest control and finish - only to see it chalked off for Raul's absent-mindedness for straying offside.

Absent-mindedness is an adjective that could encapsulate Madrid's whole listless season and this defeat has surely condemned the hapless Ramon to the managerial scrapheap. The fuming Madrid fans will not lament his exit.