Atletico Madrid and Sevilla's rivalry is one that goes beyond the pitch in many respects. These two teams have a storied past and have featured in some stunning fixtures with plenty of goals and no shortage of tension over the years. Atleti fans understand the significance of this game and will fill up the Vicente Calderon, as the occasion deserves a full house.
In the reverse fixture between the two sides earlier in the year, Atletico had a comprehensive victory with Gabi, Koke and Jackson - this is not a typo - on the scoresheet along with a Jan Oblak clean sheet. This happened several months ago, however, and both sides have undergone significant changes. Sevilla struggled through the start of their season but have arrived at a stable junction in their year. Despite this stability, they are still struggling with away form with five draw and four defeats so far this season to their names outside of the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán. Similar to Atletico, the Andalusian side have found their inspiration in front of goal in a French man: Kevin Gameiro has 11 goals in 18 appearences. Vicente Iborra, however, won't be available for Unai Emery due to s suspension after accumulating him quota of yellow cards.
Meanwhile, the game for los Rojiblancos begins a difficult spell in their season. Simeone's team face Sevilla, Barcelona, Villarreal, Real Madrid and Valencia in the next eight games of the season. It is this part of the season that could, and most likely will, decide whether or not they can repeat their La Liga success from two years ago. Regarding Sunday's game, Simeone has several men close to suspension as yellow card limits reach their maximum. If Juanfran, Gimenez or Correa are booked, they will miss next Saturday's trip to the Camp Nou.
Asked about their next opponent during the pre-match press conference, Diego Simeone said:
"Sevilla are always a competitive rival. Emery has done extraordinary work because they had to cope with a lot of change in their squad, and have continued to compete. They have changed recently and are still winning with Gameiro and Banega in the forward line and Vitolo and Krohn-Dehli on the wings. They are dangerous on the counter attack also and appear a diferent team that started the season with Llorente and Iborra. They are now a more positional side with potential in aerial duels."
Interpreting his words, it seems there will be changes in Atletico's team:
"In recent games, we have played Koke as a 'false forward', sometimes helping on the wings, which allowed us to have superiority in midfield and implement good presure. Sometimes, we have chosen to play with Carrasco taking advantage of his directness and speed on the attack. We will choose one of these two options, thinking of trying to nullify Sevilla's best features."
Grizi-Vietto duo settle in
In addition, Cholo confirmed Saul as a starter after the break he took in midweek for Atletico Copa del Rey game against Celta Vigo. Based on what we saw in Atletico's last training session, the canterano would return to join a midfield three including Gabi and Koke.
Carrasco would be incorporated into the front three that seems to becoming a favourite of Simeone's. Thus, Carrasco and Griezmann would occupy the wide positions with Vietto working in the centre. The Frenchman and the Argentinian striker have demonstrated a good chemistry nd appear to be Simeone's chosen two for big games. Jackson will have to wait for his chance off the bench, while Fernando Torres is out with an injury.
Defensively, the biggest change is Simeone's commitment to Stefan Savis as a central defender to help Oblak maintain his squeaky clean record in Atletico's goal. His good recent performances and the threat of suspension to Jose Gimenez would be the main reason for the change.
Possible XI: Oblak; Juanfran, Savic, Godín, Filipe Luis; Gabi, Koke, Saúl; Carrasco, Griezmann, Vietto.
In: Oblak, Moyá, Godín, Giménez, Savic, Filipe, Juanfran, Gámez, Augusto, Thomas, Gabi, Koke, Carrasco, Correa, Griezmann, Vietto, and Jackson
Out: Siqueira, Kranevitter, Óliver (Tactical), Lucas, Torres and Tiago (injury).