Atlético Madrid’s top-four push continues with a home match against Sevilla on Saturday, when Diego Simeone will break Luis Aragonés’s mark for games managed.
Simeone will take charge of his 613th Atlético game on Saturday, surpassing the total club icon Aragonés accrued across seven stints between 1974 and 2003. His Rojiblancos have not done the double over Sevilla (6-7-10, 25 points) in 10 years, and a victory in matchday 24 would — at least temporarily — lift Atlético (12-6-5, 42 points) into third place ahead of Real Sociedad.
“The beauty of what we have left is the opportunity to re-enter the Champions League,” Simeone told the media on Friday. “From then on, it’s exciting to see your team in that competition. But for this, we need the ‘four legs’ that have made us an important team.”
On the other side, a loss could drop Sevilla back into the heart of the relegation fight. Jorge Sampaoli’s men have the prospect of a deep Europa League run on the horizon but sit 14th in the table and only two points clear of the drop zone. Like Atlético, Sevilla were last relegated in 2000.
“They have very good footballers and they always compete well,” Simeone said. “It’s not easy to replace the defenders they lost (Diego Carlos and Jules Koundé), and Sampaoli has instilled order and work since his arrival. They attack very well, with their verticality they generate chances. They’ve grown a lot Sevilla since Sampaoli arrived.”
Simeone seems ready to change strategy in response to Reinildo’s season-ending knee injury, as Atlético have trained this week with Yannick Carrasco and Marcos Llorente at the wing-back positions. El Cholo said new signing Matt Doherty is “doing well” in training and will have an opportunity to debut on Saturday in place of the suspended Nahuel Molina.
Farther up the pitch, Pablo Barrios looks set to keep his place in the Atleti midfield next to Koke and Thomas Lemar, while Memphis is in line to make his first start for the club since his January arrival from FC Barcelona. Álvaro Morata will stay on the bench in this case, and Ángel Correa is also suspended following his controversial red card in the derby at Real Madrid last weekend.
“We are working very well collectively now. We seek to be a block, and we will take the pitch with the desire to do well,” Simeone said. “Hopefully (on Saturday) we will have our people’s vital support, because it will be a tough game.”
Listen to the pregame podcast HERE — including a translation of Simeone’s open letter to the late Luis Aragonés, published Friday.
Date March 4, 2023
Location Estadio Cívitas Metropolitano, Madrid
Kickoff time 9:00 p.m. CET, 8:00 p.m. GMT, 3:00 p.m. EST, 12:00 p.m. PST