The Champions League draw is set, our roster appears to be finalized, and tomorrow Sevilla faces a direct rival for a top four spot: behold, the season has now truly begun.
If it weren’t for Sevilla’s inability to score last week versus Malaga, this paragraph would probably be spent mocking Atletico’s pretty shabby opening week performance against newly promoted (and likely to be relegated) Las Palmas. In that game, Atletico did its usual super defensive thing in which they offered very little going forward (their only goal coming from a direct kick). In other words, it looks like another year of more of the same from the colchoneros. The Chelsea of La Liga knows what they are, and they make no apologies for it.
I have to admit, though, that I was a bit confused by Simeone’s presser this morning, in which he claimed, “Sevilla is a very similar team to us, a mirror”. Is he…I mean, is that an aspirational statement about how he wishes Atletico would play? Or is he insulting his opponent the day before the game? “Plays like Atletico” is probably the worst insult I could think to give a La Liga team; surely Simeone knows this, right? Is it possible he doesn’t realize how painful it is to watch his team?? At any rate it seems the authorities have taken note of this inflammatory language, and have responded by sending more than 400 police officers to the RSP.
Anyway. I digress. Sevilla will of course be without N’Zoni; we can debate in the comments if we feels this is a loss after his red card debut last week. We’ll also be without Suarez, who is off to Villarreal, where he’s supposedly been assured he’ll get more minutes. If that’s true, and he’s chosen to play on a Europa League team where he won’t have to fight for minutes in lieu of fighting for minutes on a team in the Champions League, I can’t say I blame him. But I also can’t say I’ll miss him. He’s a great player, but this team has enough going on this fall to also have a bunch of “Suarez insists he should be playing more” headlines in the locker room. Best of luck, Denis.
But of course talking about who won’t be around Sunday is just a prelude for who will: it’s early enough days that all the summer’s signings are as good as new and yet to show really what they’ll look like in the club. The roles and performances of Konoplyanka, Kakuta, Kolo, and Immobile are all still largely indeterminant, and tomorrow will be another excellent opportunity to see how we’ll look this year. And of course Krycho looks likely to end the summer with his not-leaving as one of our biggest transfer season moves. And…let’s see, am I forgetting any other notable arrivals? Oh–there’s the small matter of a Spaniard striker by the name of Llorente, who Emery says will be ready to play tomorrow. He might be interesting to watch as well.
All in all, it should be a great game, probably the marquee matchup of the weekend in all of Europe. Let’s hope Sevilla is equal to the task, both for the result and for putting on a good show. Vamos, you guys. Vamos.