With what is without a doubt the most exciting fixture of the weekend, Atlético will commence their 2013-14 La Liga campaign away against Sevilla.
However, thanks to La Liga’s mystifying scheduling, the Rojiblancos will kick off their first game at 23:00 CET on Sunday.
The reigning Copa del Rey champions go into this thrilling season opener with a revamped squad but an almost unchanged first team.
New arrivals David Villa, Léo Baptistão, Martín Demichelis and Daniel Aranzubia are all part of a completely fit selection for tomorrow’s clash.
But only David Villa, brought in from Barcelona to replace star No. 9 Radamel Falcao, is expected to start against Sevilla.
The all-time Spain national team top goalscorer made his unofficial debut last weekend, scoring his first goal in Rojiblanco colours after only 40 minutes.
Atlético played their Andalusian rivals four times last season, defeating them both home and away in La Liga and eliminating them in the semi-final of the Copa del Rey.
In their last encounter, Falcao scored the only goal and Courtois made three saves to earn the Colchoneros a hard-fought 0-1 victory at the Sánchez Pizjuán.
Speaking on Friday, second vice-captain Raúl García said that Atlético are anxious to play and that they’re looking forward to facing a strong adversary.
“We really want to start competing. The first game of La Liga is in Sevilla, where we always enjoy playing, because it’s a difficult place. We really want to start by winning.”
Earlier this week, manager Diego Simeone also spoke to the press and looked ahead.
“We are working well. Now comes the most important part and we have to go into it with the enthusiasm and expectation that comes with being in a team like Atlético.”
Cholo also gave his take on tomorrow’s opponents, where star players like Álvaro Negredo and Jesús Navas have left this summer.
“Sevilla is a different team than last year, with players like Marin, Vitolo, Kondogbia, Bacca, Perotti… We’re talking about players at a high level. It will be difficult as always to play there.”
Sevilla will be without Carriço, Reyes, Trochowski, and Cicinho, due to injury, and Navarro, Cala, and Cristóforo, due to suspension.
Speaking this week, coach Unai Emery acknowledged the strength of Atlético, but said that “we have the hope and the belief that we can compete with them and beat them in the standings.”
Atlético match selection
Goalkeepers: Aranzubia, Courtois
Defenders: Godín, Filipe Luís, Manquillo, Juanfran, Insúa, Miranda, Demichelis
Midfielders: Mario, Koke, Raúl García, Arda, Cristian Rodríguez, Gabi, Óliver
Forwards: Adrián, David Villa, Diego Costa, Léo Baptistão
Referee: Carlos Clos Gómez