On Saturday, the Wanda Metropolitano will play host to an important battle between Sevilla and Atlético Madrid — one that could end up deciding a place in next season’s Champions League.
Sevilla sit third as it stands, two points clear of fifth-place Atlético. Julen Lopetegui’s men have stumbled a bit of late, but a late winner against Osasuna — combined with Atleti’s draw at Espanyol last week — saw them ascend into the top three. The Andalusians did the double over Europa League rivals Getafe but have failed to beat any of Atlético, Barcelona and Real Madrid this season.
Atlético need to find a “forcefulness” — as Diego Simeone termed it in his Friday press conference — to knock off the visitors and reenter the top four with 11 weeks to go. Thomas Partey’s suspension will make that somewhat tougher, and the team needs positive energy to take to Anfield next Wednesday.
To that end, Simeone is set to roll out the strongest XI available, with the only doubt being whether Renan Lodi will be fully recovered from a slight problem in time to start at left back.
Possible XI Oblak; Trippier, Savić, Felipe, Lodi; Llorente, Saúl, Correa, Koke; Félix, Morata.
Prediction 1-0 Atlético. Here are Atlético’s home results versus Sevilla in league play since January 2010: W,D,D,W,D,W,D,W,W,D. But for the first time in what seems like a long time, Sevilla are actually decent away from home — so decent, in fact, that only Real Madrid have picked up more points on the road than these guys.
Only two teams have collected more home wins than Atlético this season. Los Rojiblancos are unbeaten over the past five league games at A Stadium Called Wanda. They’re just about fully healthy. Plus, this is about as good a warmup for Liverpool as could be — Sevilla play a possession-heavy, cross-happy style for which Simeone knows how to gameplan.
My record on the season 20-16
Date March 7, 2020
Location Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain
Kickoff time 4:00 p.m. CET, 3:00 p.m. GMT, 10:00 a.m. EST, 7:00 a.m. PST
Available TV/streaming Movistar+ (Spain), LaLiga TV (United Kingdom), beIN Sports (United States), Sportklub 2 (Slovenia), DIRECTV Sports (Argentina), beIN Sports HD 3 (Saudi Arabia), QQ Sports Live (China)