Diego Simeone’s men welcome Sevilla to the Vicente Calderón on Sunday afternoon, and Atleti will be playing with one objective in mind – the 3 points.
Kick-off is set for 16:00 CET.
El Cholo knows that getting to the top is easy, but staying there is the tough part. However Sevilla is like a wounded animal; unpredictable and dangerous.
Unai Emery’s men will be trying to serve Atleti the main dish, revenge, which is best served cold after 19 matches for what was a humiliating night for them in their own stadium and in front of their own fans. The return fixture ended 3-0 to the visitors with goals from Koke, Gabi and Jackson Martinez.
Atlético are aiming for their fifth consecutive win in La Liga, to maintain the momentum and remain top of the league. With wins against Rayo, Levante, Celta & Las Palmas in the last four matches, Atleti sit first with 47 points.
Sevilla come off a back-to-back win against Malaga and Athletic, after a loss to Granada on match day 18. Sevilla will be hoping to clinch a European spot following a disappointing exit from the Champions League group stages. Sevilla currently sit seventh with 32 points.
The last 5 encounters between the two teams have ended up with three wins for Atleti and two draws. The most recent was the 0-3 thrashing at Sanchez-Pizjuan earlier this season.
During Sevilla’s post match press conference in the Copa del Rey, Emery stressed the importance of the league match against Atleti. The ex-Valencia boss referred to the game as “Sevilla’s toughest test of the season.”
The Spaniard took time to praise the work and influence of the Argentine, stating that it is not odd to see Atleti at the top amongst Real Madrid and Barcelona, as the team took a step further under his command.
In the pre-match press conference ahead of the Sevilla game, Diego Simeone commented on how tough Sunday’s match is.
“We are going to face a very competitive opponent,” the Argentine said. He highlighted the improvement in Sevilla’s tempo in the final third as a possible threat.
El Cholo took the time to praise the captain, Gabi, saying, “[He] transmits hierarchy to the team with his game and personality.”
Fernando Torres, Óliver, Lucas and Tiago are all missing for Atleti through injury. Saul trained this weekend with the team, whilst Kranevitter and Siqueira have been omitted due to tactical reasons.
For Sevilla, Iborra will be missing due to suspension, after getting two yellow cards last week against Malaga. Cristoforo will most likely start, in Iborra’s place, as he has been impressing lately.
There are rumours regarding the inclusion of the experienced Llorente in attack alongside Gameiro, which could see the Frenchman deployed out wide ahead of Krohn-Dehli.
El Cholo will most likely start with the customary 4-4-2 formation, and may alternate to a 4-3-3 formation depending on how the match proceeds.
There is no doubt that the back five will be the usual with Oblak in goal, Godin and Gimenez at the back and Filipe & Juanfran on the flanks. With Saul back in training, it is possible he will start in midfield along with Gabi, Koke and Augusto Fernandez. Upfront will be Griezmann and accompanied by either Jackson Martinez or Vietto.
Simeone will aim to control the middle of the field, by pressing up high, and to play in Sevilla’s third. With the likes of Griezmann up front, the Argentine will hope to take advantage of any defensive errors. With Rami and Carrico in defence, long balls and crosses from either flanks will not be as effective, as the duo are good in aerial challenges. Therefore El Cholo will opt for short passing and fast breaks on the counter attack to exploit Sevilla’s relatively lethargic back line.
Emery will likely start with his usual 4-5-1 formation, which proved efficient against Malaga and Athletic in the last two league games.
Sergio Rico will start in goal, followed by Tremoulinas, Rami, Carrico and Coke in defence. In midfield Cristoforo, Kyrchowiak, Banega, Vitolo and Krohn-Dehli may start. Upfront Gameiro will be the sole striker. Unless rumours of the Spaniard starting up front are true, we may see the same formation used in the Malaga game last week.
The Spanish coach’s only hope for getting on the score sheet tonight is through a blunder by the Uruguayan duo. Long balls into the box could prove ineffectual against Atleti’s back line. That said, Llorente does posses the physical prowess to cause the Atleti fans a couple of minor heart attacks. Emery will try to utilise his team’s ability to shoot from outside the box to exploit Oblak’s vulnerability against long shots, with Gameiro poaching any crumbs the Slovenian may drop.
Players to Watch
Antoine Griezmann & Yannick Carrasco – Griezmann will be looking to add to his tally, following a brace against Las Palmas. There is no doubt that he’s the most lethal amongst Simeone’s men, given Jackson’s drought. Along with Carrasco’s pace and dribbling skills, the duo will create havoc in Sevilla’s final third.
Yevhen Konoplyanka & Kevin Gameiro – Yevhen boasts immense dribbling skills as well as a strong right foot; capable of shooting from distance, meaning Emery’s men will try their luck from outside the box if they fail to break through the Uruguayan duo. Kevin has been in form lately, scoring a brace in their last game against Malaga. He currently sits 10th with 11 goals in 18 matches.
History dictates that matches between the two are likely to be physical. Iglesias Villanueva, the referee for Sunday’s match, has a tendency to brandish cards quickly, so we could witness either teams being reduced to ten, or even nine men.
Sunday’s match will be hard fought, so it will be unlikely to see more than two goals on the scoresheet, one of which may even be a penalty.
Taking both team’s forms into account, this match could end in a tie. However with Atleti’s defensive home record and lack of goals, the game could end in 1–0 win for the Colchoneros. It is unlikely, yet not impossible, that in form Gameiro could help avenge Sevilla’s defeat at home and bring back the 3 points.
• In the last ten league meetings between the two teams, Atleti have never lost. (W5 D5)
• Sevilla has not won a league game at the Vicente Calderón since September 2008.
• Atleti are on a five game winning streak at home in La Liga.
• Sevilla haven’t won away from home in their last nine league games
• Atleti boast joint-best home defensive record in La Liga with only five goals conceded
Atlético squad to play Sevilla:
Goalkeepers: Moya, Oblak
Defenders: Godin, Gimenez, Savic, Filipe, Juanfran, Gamez
Midfielders: Koke, Gabi, Augusto, Saul, Thomas, Carrasco, Correa
Forwards: Griezmann, Jackson, Vietto.