Atlético make their way to Sevilla for one of the tougher fixtures of the season, and will do so without the presence of most of the members of the Rojiblanco fantastic four.
Diego, Falcao and Arda will all watch the match, which gets underway on Saturday at 22:00 CET, from their couches in Madrid.
The Brazilian playmaker continues his recovery from a thigh muscle tear, while the Turkish international, surely much to the dismay of Atleti officials and coaching staff, returned from midweek national team duties beat up and impaired for the third time since arriving to the club.
‘El Tigre’ received his fifth booking in last weekend’s game, which will force him to serve a one-match ban on Saturday.
Diego Simeone will have to reconstruct a Colchonero attack that will be led by the only available component of his lethal quartet: rising star Adrián.
Doubts arose earlier in the week as to the Spaniard’s availability for this clash following an injury scare with his nation’s Olympic squad, but the striker will be suiting up, assuring his coach he was only playing it safe because of soreness.
In six appearances versus Sevilla, the former Deportivo man has never lost (2W, 4D), scoring two goals in his career against our upcoming opponents.
Eduardo Salvio will most likely return to the fold to take up a spot on the wing, presenting ‘Toto’ with his umpteenth opportunity to make a positive impression after a slew of mostly disappointing performances.
To add to Atleti’s line-up woes, defender Diego Godín will also be unavailable through suspension, but his likely replacement Alvaro Dominguez should be more than up to the task.
To shore up our squad for this trip, Simeone called-up a pair of Atlético B youngsters.
Sergio Cidoncha’s name appeared in Cholo’s match selection for the second time this season, while Barcelona-born central midfielder Miguel Ángel Luque debuts on the squad list.
Atlético and Sevilla are currently level at 32 points apiece in the league table and sit three points out of fourth place-holders Levante.
While ‘El Cholo’s’ men went winless in the league throughout all of February, taking only three points of 12 up for grabs last month, los Nervionenses overcame their long term slump and have put together back-to-back victories under new coach Míchel.
The former Real Madrid midfielder replaced fired coach Marcelino García Toral, signing with the Andalusians through the end of the season.
Míchel will touch wood and hope to take his streak to three wins on the trot.
The newly-appointed Sevilla boss faces his own line-up concerns though, with lead scorer Alvaro Negredo facing a month-long layoff because of a thigh injury.
Reports out of Spain suggest January signing and Senegalese striker Baba Diawara could be an option to fill-in for Negredo, though his coach didn’t spill the beans about his intentions.
“I can’t say if it will be Baba, if he is going to start or come on later, but he will play tomorrow,” Míchel was quoted as saying by ESPN Soccernet.
“He’s a young kid and his adaptation takes time, but he’s progressing all the time, and he’s the player who has scored the most goals in training.”
It’s been a while since we last defeated our bitter rivals and we’ve come out of our last three visits to their stadium empty-handed.
Hopefully an inspired bunch of substitutes will lead us to a much-needed triumph that will make our good ol’ friend José Antonio Reyes rue the day he chose to leave Atlético.
Atlético match selection:
Goalkeepers: Courtois, Sergio Asenjo
Defenders: Filipe Luis, Sílvio, Domínguez, Perea, Miranda
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Tiago, Salvio, Assunçao, Gabi, Fran Mérida, Koke, Juanfran, Luque, Cidoncha
Forwards: Adrián, Pizzi
Sevilla match selection: TBA
Referee: Alfonso Javier Álvarez Izquierdo
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