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Pre-match comments: Competition a good thing for Simeone

Atlético take on Sevilla in the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday.

Atletico Madrid v Malaga - La Liga Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Competition among players is healthy for the squad, Atlético Madrid manager Diego Simeone said on Friday ahead of his team’s encounter with Sevilla on Saturday.

An early kick-off in the Wanda Metropolitano (13:00 CET) comes hot on the heels of Wednesday’s hard-fought win over Athletic Bilbao, and the Argentine said in a pre-match press conference that squad depth can only ever help his team.

“Internal competition is not a problem,” Simeone said. “In the big teams there are always important players, this is how we grow. The club is growing and it needs guys that will be able to compete for it is that which is important, not only them.”

Some had worried that the summer transfer ban might have led the team to operating on a threadbare basis for the first part of the season, but Atlético have retained all their first team players from last season.

The match against Sevilla promises to be difficult fixture for Simeone’s team, with the Andalusian outfit coming into the game just behind Barcelona in second place in the league, while Atlético sit a further two points behind in third.

“They work collectively to retain the ball and players of the highest quality,” Simeone said. “They are very dangerous up front, it’s a team that is going to compete for the highest positions in the table.”

Simeone confirmed that Augusto Fernández and Kévin Gameiro were both making good recoveries from their respective injuries, but neither would be available for the game.

Sevilla coach Eduardo Berizzo described the two sides as “direct rivals” ahead of the encounter.

“The places that the two teams occupy are the same and this makes us rivals,” he said. “We’re both going for the Champions League, we want the same thing and this makes us direct rivals.”