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.
On the fact that he hasn't repeated the same staring 11 in 32 games:— The Partido a Partido Podcast (@ThePaPPod) September 30, 2022
️ “The other day I read how well Real Madrid performs because it rotates continuously. The result ends up positioning a question but in reality it is the same."
La Liga 2022-23— The Analyst (@OptaAnalyst) September 29, 2022
Which areas do teams make the most/fewest progressive passes on the pitch? pic.twitter.com/KrDEpMiuYQ
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