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Atlético de Madrid - Sevilla FC: For the last semifinal spot

Atlético are busy off the field, while on it, a Copa del Rey semifinal place hangs in the balance.

Granada CF v Atletico Madrid - LaLiga EA Sports Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images

Atlético de Madrid return to the Cívitas Metropolitano on Thursday night to face Sevilla, as both teams battle to reach the Copa del Rey semifinals.

Atlético Madrid are hoping to reach its first cup semifinal since 2017 — and should they see off Sevilla, Los Rojiblancos would join Mallorca, Real Sociedad, and Athletic Club in the final four ahead of Friday’s draw. But Diego Simeone is not about to take the struggling visitors for granted, especially after they battled valiantly in a 1-0 loss to Atlético last month.

“Sevilla are in a moment of need, as we are with ours,” Simeone told reporters on Wednesday. “They have great players and a great coach who knows us well.”

Upstairs, Atlético’s front office is hard at work making additions to the first team before the winter transfer window slams shut next week. Romania national team goalkeeper Horațiu Moldovan officially joined on Wednesday, signing a three-and-a-half-year deal after Atlético triggered the €800,000 release clause in his contract with Rapid Bucharest. Incumbent backup keeper Ivo Grbić will join Sheffield United in a corresponding move, while left-back Javi Galán left Wednesday to sign with Real Sociedad on loan until the end of the season.

Atlético also expect to finalize a loan (with no purchase option) for Juventus striker Moise Kean by next week, while the club is getting closer to sealing a deal for Belgian starlet Arthur Vermeeren. Atlético have reached an agreement to sign the Royal Antwerp midfielder for an initial €22 million fee, and the 18-year-old was left out of Antwerp’s squad for its cup game against OH Leuven on Wednesday night. Vermeeren landed in the Spanish capital on Thursday to finalize personal terms, and he will be in attendance for the Copa del Rey quarterfinal.

“I see a growing team, improving in specific things that we need to improve on, and taking things game by game as always,” Simeone said of his changing side.

Arthur Vermeeren says goodbye to the Royal Antwerp fans ahead of his proposed transfer to Atlético.
Photo by TOM GOYVAERTS/Belga/AFP via Getty Images

Neither Antoine Griezmann nor Mario Hermoso completed Wednesday’s training session in Majadahonda, but both players will be available Thursday night. The starting right wing-back and the final midfielder next to Koke and Rodrigo de Paul are Simeone’s two doubts in the starting 11, where Samuel Lino will displace Rodrigo Riquelme at left wing-back and José Giménez will step in for Stefan Savić in the heart of defense.

Reinildo Mandava will also return to the squad following Mozambique’s elimination from the African Cup of Nations. Reinildo scored one goal during the AFCON group stage — a 94th-minute equalizer against Ghana on Monday to knock the Black Stars out of the tournament.

“Reinildo is back having played football, which he didn’t have when he left for the African Cup,” Simeone said. “He’s always been an important player for us. Let’s hope that when it’s his turn to play, he gives us his joy, his passion, his dedication, and his commitment. I said the other day that winning duels is important for us, and he’s strong there.”

Date Jan. 25, 2024

Location Estadio Cívitas Metropolitano, Madrid

Kickoff time 9:00 p.m. CET, 8:00 p.m. GMT, 3:00 p.m. ET, 12:00 p.m. PT

Available TV/streaming ESPN+ (United States), Movistar+ (Spain)