Sevilla FC vs Atlético de Madrid: A battle between struggling heavyweights who want three points

Sevilla FC vs Atlético de Madrid is so often a top-of-the-table clash, with Champions League qualification at stake, but when these two heavyweights meet on Saturday their main focus will be on kickstarting their stuttering seasons. Neither side is currently inside the top six in the standings, making the latest edition of this historic fixture hugely important for both clubs.

Sevilla FC, who have finished fourth in LaLiga Santander three years in a row and challenged for the title in the last two campaigns, head into the match in the unfamiliar position of being 15th in the table, hovering above the relegation zone with just five points from their opening six games.

Los Hispalenses endured a rough start, falling to defeats at CA Osasuna and UD Almería before a humbling 3-0 thrashing at home to FC Barcelona. But, the tide could be turning for Julen Lopetegui’s side as they picked up a first win of the season with a 3-2 raid at RCD Espanyol before a spirited 1-1 draw away to high-flying Villarreal CF last time out, making them unbeaten in their last three matches in all competitions.

Even though they surrendered the lead against Villarreal CF, there was a tangible sense of improvement among the Sevilla FC side. As midfielder Joan Jordán stated: “I’m convinced that good things will come to us soon. We are playing well, but we are struggling to do it for more than 30 to 35 minutes and matches last 90 minutes. I really believe in my teammates. We’re going to recover players to arrive in the best way possible against Atlético.”

Atlético have also made a difficult start to the campaign, sitting seventh in the table on 10 points, already eight behind leaders Real Madrid, who they just lost to 2-1 in the Madrid Derby. A big factor in their struggles has been the performances of their forwards. Álvaro Morata made a strong start to the campaign but has not scored in his last four matches in all competitions for his club, while João Félix has not managed to find the net in his eight games across all competitions.

Having finished in the top three throughout the Diego Simeone era, even winning the LaLiga Santander title in 2013/14 and 2020/21, Atlético expect to be challenging near the top and need this Saturday’s three points to put themselves back in the title conversation.

Atleti’s struggles at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán

Sevilla FC have an impressive home record against Atleti, winning their last two matches against them at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán and staying unbeaten in their last four fixtures against Simeone’s side there.

After 1-1 draws in this fixture in 2018/19 and 2019/20, Lopetegui’s side then handed Atleti one of their four defeats in the 2020/21 season, when Simeone’s side lifted the trophy. Sevilla FC then won a thriller last year 2-1, with Lucas Ocampos scoring an 88th minute winner after Ivan Rakitić and Felipe had found the back of the net in the first half.

Overall, Simeone has only lost five out of 25 matches to Sevilla FC in his managerial career, winning 10 and drawing 10. However, the Argentine has tasted victory in just one of the past eight meetings against his former club.

Simeone’s past as a Sevilla FC player

It’s often forgotten that Sevilla FC were the first Spanish club that El Cholo joined during his playing career, spending 1992/93 and 1993/94 there. The midfielder was signed by Carlos Bilardo and partnered Diego Maradona in that 1992/93 Sevilla FC team, before he stayed on for 1993/94 after the other two Argentines had left, getting a chance that season to work under Atlético and Spain legend Luis Aragonés.

It was against Atlético that he scored his best Sevilla FC goal, forcing an effort in from the halfway line in a friendly between the two teams, and it was against Los Colchoneros that he had his best performance, heading in both goals of a 2-1 home victory for Sevilla FC in LaLiga Santander. This Saturday, though, Simeone will be doing all he can to ensure the three points return to Spain’s capital with him and his Atleti squad.