Atletico Madrid will look to maintain their 14-game unbeaten run as they face Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium this weekend.
Following a stuttering start to the campaign, Atletico Madrid have fared quite well this season, with their last defeat coming against Borussia Dortmund back in October. And Los Colchoneros will look to maintain pressure on league leaders FC Barcelona when they travel to Sevilla this weekend.
However, a defeat for Atletico will allow Sevilla to clinch the second spot.
Thus, coach Diego Simeone will be hoping that his side will be able to maintain their defensive solidity while finding their attacking rhythm as they face a challenging Sevilla side, who boast the second best attack in the league this season, with their tally of 30 goals only bettered by Barcelona.
Atletico, on the other hand, have the strongest defence in the league, having conceded only 12 goals in 17 matches. As a matter of fact, only PSG have a better defensive record than Simeone’s men in Europe’s top five leagues this campaign.
The visitors are coming on the back of a narrow win over Espanyol and will be full confidence having won all three of their previous league encounters. Sevilla, though, were held by Leganes last weekend as both sides drew 1-1.
And here at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over both the sides ahead of their important match-up this weekend.
Team news & tactics
Franco Vazquez has been slapped with a three-game suspension following his red card against Leganes. But on a more positive note for Sevilla, both Ever Banega and Pablo Sarabia have returned from suspension and will most likely be included in the starting lineup this weekend.
In defence, Simon Kjaer could return to the side after missing out against Leganes due to a muscle injury. Although he will be facing a late fitness test, we expect the Danish international to make it time.
Kjaer will be partnered by Daniel Carrico and Sergi Gomez in central defence while Aleix Vidal and Sergio Escudero will be slotted in as wing-backs in Sevilla’s pendulating backline. Vidal will replace Jesus Navas, who was suffering from a knock.
Banega could be given a start in this crucial fixture as his experience combined with his technical quality could be influential against the opposition midfield. The Argentine international will be partnered by Roque Mesa in Sevilla’s 3-4-1-2 with Pablo Sarabia, also returning from suspension, being deployed as the attacking midfielder.
And in attack, Sevilla coach Pablo Machin is likely to resort to his trusted offensive duo of Wissam Ben-Yedder and Andre Silva. Both have scored eight goals each this season and will be key as Sevilla look to breach the well-disciplined Atletico defence.
Probable lineup (3-4-1-2): Vaclik; Carrico, Kjaer, Gomez; Vidal, Banega, Mesa, Escudero; Sarabia; Silva, Ben-Yedder.
Simeone will be without the services of many of his regular first-team players including Diego Costa and Filipe Luis while the defensive duo of Lucas Hernandez and Jose Gimenez are both doubtful.
The absence of Filipe Luis, in particular, will once again force the Argentine to deploy Saul Niguez in the left-back slot while Santiago Arias will occupy the opposing flank. Stefan Savic, on the other hand, will continue to partner Diego Godin in central defence.
We could expect an alternation in midfield, with Koke shifting into the right-hand side, allowing Thomas Lemar to return to the starting lineup. The Frenchman will occupy the left flank, with Angel Correa making way.
The trusted midfield duo of Rodri and Thomas Partey will retain their place at the base of Atletico’s 4-4-2. Both of them will be tasked with the responsibility of nullifying Sevilla’s creative midfielders including Banega and Sarabia.
In attack, Nikola Kalinic has made good use of his limited opportunities in recent weeks, scoring two goals in his last three matches. Thus, Simeone might just reward him yet another start this weekend as he looks to deputize for the injured Costa.
Kalinic will be supported by Antoine Griezmann, who has been involved in five goals in the last three matches.
Probable lineup(4-4-2): Oblak; Arias, Savic, Godin, Niguez; Koke, Partey, Rodri, Lemar; Kalinic, Griezmann.
- Sevilla have an excellent home record coming into this fixture, having won all of their last six matches at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium.
- Atletico Madrid have the best defensive record in the league, having conceded only 12 goals this season.
- Sevilla have scored at least 2 goals in their last 3 matches against Atletico in all competitions.
- Sevilla have scored at least 2 goals in 5 of their last 6 home matches.
- Sevilla have lost only once in their last 14 matches in all competitions.
Player to watch
Having scored the winner in the narrow win over Espanyol as well as netting a brace the week before, it’s fair to say that Antoine Griezmann is in red-hot form at the moment. The Frenchman has been involved in five goals in his last three matches and is destined to play a key role against Sevilla this weekend.
His ability to run at defenders as well as playing quick passes in and around the final third will surely give the hosts a tough time dealing with the Atletico attack.
It will be interesting to see how he pairs up with Kalinic and even Lemar on the flanks, as both of these players have struggled to become first-team regulars under Simeone this season.
Sevilla 0-1 Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid have fared extremely well since their embarrassing defeat to Dortmund back in October and it’s unlikely that they will lose their focus against Sevilla.
On the contrary, they will be keen to maintain pressure on league leaders Barcelona. Thus, we expect Los Colchoneros to seal a narrow win over the Andalusians this weekend.