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Sevilla FC-Atlético Madrid: Top-four clash kicks off April

Atlético start its 10-game title push at the Pizjuán.

Atletico de Madrid v Deportivo Alavés - La Liga Santander Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Luis Aragonés once said that a league title is only decided through a season’s final 10 games. LaLiga leaders Atlético Madrid will begin this final, decisive stretch Sunday night, on the road, against Sevilla.

Atlético (20-6-2, 66 points) first visited Sevilla (17-4-7, 55 points) in league play more than 90 years ago — and Atlético have won only 16 times across 81 all-time games at Sevilla. The Andalusian side has beaten Atleti only once in the past 10 years (that’s 20 league games), and Simeone’s men have won four/drawn four at the Pizjuán since 2012 — losing there in 2016.

“Words are not that important right now, the facts are what count,” Diego Simeone told reporters on Saturday as his team prepares for a crunch clash. “The game is all that counts, no matter how I imagine a situation.”

Sevilla required late heroics to snatch a point at Valladolid prior to the international break but remain on course for a second consecutive top-four finish under Julen Lopetegui. The Nervionenses are 10 points clear of Real Sociedad, with the head-to-head advantage as well. They’ve also won 10 of 14 home games this season, conceding just nine goals along the way. Leading scorer Youssef En-Nesyri is fifth in LaLiga with 15 strikes to his name.

Real Valladolid CF v Sevilla FC - La Liga Santander Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

“Sevilla play very well,” Simeone said. “They have many decisive (players to turn to). They are showing how competitive they are. They have a great variety. They are one of the most balanced squads in all of LaLiga.”

Atlético’s leading scorer, Luis Suárez, is second in LaLiga with 19 goals. He’s scored 11 times against Sevilla, though he was held off the scoresheet when these two teams last met in January. Saúl, who did score in that 2-0 victory, has been training as part of a provisional 11 alongside Spain internationals Koke and Marcos Llorente, while Thomas Lemar — recalled for France duty over the international break — has partnered Suárez.

“The boys are working with enthusiasm,” Simeone said. “It’s good for a footballer to defend the shirt (of the country) where he was born. It’s positive for a footballer’s development.”

Status of the squad Yannick Carrasco, already dealing with an ankle injury that knocked him out of Belgium duty, is suspended for yellow card accumulation. João Félix suffered a blow to his right ankle while playing for Portugal and seems unlikely to make the trip to Seville — though he hasn’t yet been ruled out. Lucas Torreira may join up with the squad in time for kickoff, but he is still in Uruguay mourning his mother’s death earlier this week.

For Sevilla, Sergio Escudero will miss out after he tested positive for COVID-19.

Date April 4, 2021

Location Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, Seville, Andalucía

Kickoff time 9:00 p.m. CET, 8:00 p.m. GMT, 3:00 p.m. EST, 12:00 p.m. PST

Available TV/streaming Movistar Partidazo (Spain), LaLiga TV (United Kingdom), beIN Sports (United States), Sky HD (Mexico), ESPN2 Sur (Uruguay), Migu (China), SuperSport LaLiga (South Africa)