With the upcoming international break, tomorrow’s matchup with Atlético feels like the end of the first segment of the season, and a tough stretch at that: in these first six games Sevilla will have faced almost all of the likely competitors for European places in Valencia, Villarreal, Malaga, and Atlético. Thus far, of course, Sevilla has fared very well against this quality competition, going undefeated, earning 11 points, and staying within one point of the leader through five games. The team hasn’t always looked super convincing, but there have certainly been moments of brilliance, and last season’s most glaring issue (goals allowed) has been this team’s strength, allowing an average of only .6 goals per game, and currently riding a three-game, 3oo+ minute shutout streak. Not a bad start for a new coach trying to address some serious shortcomings with a short-handed squad (don’t forget, we’re yet to start a game with our theoretically preferred starting XI; if you’re worried about a lack of goals consider that we haven’t had all three of Rakitic, Kanoute, and Negredo healthy at the same time, and have mostly only had one of them at full strength). But before the squad packs it in for international duties, we’ve got a big match with the couch-makers of Madrid to see to.
Atlético haven’t had a great start to the season, but that’s perhaps to be expected with so many key departures and newly added players and coaches this off-season. Most recent results not withstanding, they seem to be getting going, with Falcao in particular becoming the kind of constant threat that means there’s always a danger of goals, no matter how Atlético-like his team is playing. More recently, it’s been a rough week for Atleti, suffering a manita away at Barcelona followed by a very tough and hard-fought Europa League draw in France. Lots of travel, lots of running, and lots of not winning. Hopefully we’ll continue to benefit from (and capitalize on) playing teams that have tough games to Barca and mid-week European matches on their minds and legs, and see a slightly hobbled or slowed team out there.
On Sevilla’s side, a win at the Calderón would be fantastic, but I’d be happy if we keep the unbeaten streak going. Negredo appears to have recovered from a concerning mid-week injury enough to be on the squad list, but I think he’s still officially a “doubt” to start. I haven’t read anything about Kanoute but I’m just going to copy/paste that he’s had some muscular problem during the week but that he’ll be available to play come game time. I haven’t seen anything on the field to make me think that Rakitic is 100% yet, but presumably he’s continuing to recover; I’d think it’s a possibility he starts tomorrow. The red cards from last week’s win over Valencia will further cripple our heroes, with Escudé and Trochowski sitting this one out. In their places will be canterano Luna (yay!) and De Mul, who I’d forgotten was on our team this year.
All told, this is a match between two pretty equal teams, with both sides somewhat crippled by injuries/fatigue/suspensions. Given Atleti’s home field advantage and place on the table (only 8th on 7 points despite a pretty favorable schedule), I’d think anything less than 3 points would be a disappointment for the home team. I like Sevilla’s chance to make it a disappointing outing for the colchoneros.