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Sevilla FC-Atlético Madrid: A frantic month begins

Cholo plans more changes with his midfield short of options.

Atletico de Madrid v Real Madrid CF - LaLiga Santander
An Antoine Griezmann hat trick powered Atlético to its last win at Sevilla, back in 2018.
Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Atlético Madrid square off against struggling Sevilla on Saturday night, when club captain Koke is expected to break the club’s long-standing appearances record.

The international break felt like a long one for Atlético (3-1-2, 10 points), as the Rojiblancos enter Saturday’s match at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán on a two-game losing skid between LaLiga and the Champions League.

Diego Simeone will be able to count on both José Giménez and Stefan Savić for the first time this season as the Rojiblancos look to get back on the winning path to begin a busy month. But El Cholo has left midfielders Thomas Lemar (injury) and Rodrigo de Paul (in Argentina for family reasons) out of the squad — which means the coach will have to chop and change the 11 once more with his team likely to struggle at chance creation.

Atlético’s start to the 2022/23 campaign has been inconsistent at best, but the Sevilla project (1-2-3, 5 points) under Julen Lopetegui appears to have stalled completely. Sevilla sold central defenders Diego Carlos and Jules Koundé over the summer and have accordingly shipped 11 goals in LaLiga already — just a few months after goalkeeper Yassine Bounou won the Zamora Trophy. Lopetegui’s men just about held on for a 1-1 draw at Villarreal before the FIFA break.

“Football is what it is,” Simeone said when asked about Sevilla’s results on Friday. “Sevilla have played many important, difficult games against great opponents. I understand (Lopetegui) as a great coach. He’s done very well at Sevilla in recent years. It is a team committed, above all, to work.”

Simeone has worked with a 4-4-2 and a 4-1-4-1 formation throughout training this week as his many internationals returned to Madrid. With Giménez and Savić set to start together for the first time this season, Axel Witsel should start in his familiar central midfield role for the first time since joining Atlético over the summer.

Reinildo and Nahuel Molina will play as natural full-backs if Simeone reverts to a back four, and the coach will have a decision to make at forward — Álvaro Morata and João Félix are in frigid goal-scoring form, while Ángel Correa has looked lively in limited minutes this season.

“When it comes to João, we hope he’s doing things in the best way possible,” Simeone said about the Portugal international. “The club, the fans, and our team are very excited to see the best João. (Whether he starts) will depend on what he can give us.”

Date Oct. 1, 2022

Location Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, Sevilla, Andalucía

Kickoff time 6:30 p.m. CEST, 5:30 p.m. BST, 12:30 p.m. EST, 9:30 a.m. PST

Available TV/streaming ESPN+ (United States), DAZN (Spain), LaLiga TV (United Kingdom)