Atletico Madrid return to action after the international break on Saturday when they travel to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan to face off against Julien Lopetegui’s Sevilla side.
Both Atletico and Sevilla have had underwhelming starts to the season, though the case of the latter is direr.
Los Rojiblancos currently sit seventh on the league table with three wins in six games, while the hosts are fifteenth with just five points. Needless to say, tomorrow’s game will be critical for both sides’ campaigns.
Diego Simeone addressed the press ahead of his team’s weekend clash and spoke about topics ranging from Antoine Griezmann to Julien Lopetegui. Here are the snippets from his press interaction.
On whether it is difficult to manage the Griezmann situation: “There is really no difficulty, we choose those who we think have to start, those who have to come on and from there the only thing that matters is the result.”
On Axel Witsel’s position: “We have the option of playing with him in the libero or in the middle, introducing himself as a deep central midfielder and defending as a libero. It is an option that the player gives us when he is on the field.”
On whether the return of Savic and Gimenez would lead to a four-man defence: “The return of Savic and Gimenez does not condition, because they can play with three or four. [They can play] with Reinildo as they have been doing and with Carrasco on the left. That can be four or five, depending on the situation.”
On Joao Felix: “Joao returned to training yesterday and today. Let’s hope that when he has to play he will do it in the best way. The club, the people and we as a team are very excited to see the best Joao Félix and it will depend on what he can do for us to give.”
On Julien Lopetegui’s difficult period: “Football is what it is and Sevilla have had to play many important, difficult, complex games, with many difficulties and with great rivals as well. Lopetegui is a great coach, he has been doing very well at Sevilla in recent years.”
On Sevilla: “I see the rival committed above all to their work, the game against Villarreal shows it, the one against Espanyol too, in these last two games they have obtained positive results in difficulty. Tomorrow we know what we are going to find.”
On the continuously changing starting lineup: “This depends on where you want to position yourself. The other day I read how well Real Madrid do because they rotate continuously. So, the result ends up placing a question on one side or the other, but the reality is the same.”
On players focussing on the World Cup: “If they tell me that I’m thinking about the World Cup all the time, I say yes, but when a game starts, you forget about the World Cup, like when you go to play ball with friends and forget what’s going on in the family.”
Source: Atletico Madrid YouTube
Atletico Madrid midfielder on the derby against Real Madrid: “Very difficult to beat them”
Following a 1-1 draw in their Champions League opener against Lazio, Atletico Madrid will shift all their attention to La Liga, as they brace themselves for the derby against Real Madrid this weekend.
Heading into this game, Atleti midfielder Marcos Llorente spoke about Real Madrid’s quality and Atletico Madrid’s chances of squeezing all three points from this iconic derby.
Llorente on Madrid derby
“The sensations are good. The team is very good, the other day we played a great game despite ending up drawing. I really think that the team did a great job that must be maintained for this match,” Llorente said in an interview with Diario AS.
When asked whether or not Real Madrid being tagged as favourites could aid Atleti, the midfielder said, “Honestly, it neither motivates me nor demotivates me. We simply have to do what we work on during the week, what the coach asks of us.”
Llorente stressed the importance of the game, adding, “It is a great rival we have in front of us, they are having a very good start to the season and that motivates me and everyone to try to play a good game.”
“Real Madrid is a great club, they have great players and it is very difficult to beat them. I think we have competed, we have also achieved several draws, but in the end, either you go out one hundred percent and do things very, very well or it is difficult to beat them,” he added.
A former member of the Real Madrid youth academy, Llorente joined Atletico Madrid in 2019. Since then, he has racked up over 150 competitive appearances for Los Colchoneros.
Llorente, though, said he feels no sense of vindication when he performs well against his former team.
“No. In the end, it’s been many years since I left there and I’m at Atlético. Perhaps in the first years, those types of feelings and sensations can arise, but today they no longer do,” he said.
Llorente on Vinicius, Koke & Bellingham
The Atletico Madrid star went on to talk about other aspects of the game, including the fact that his team had one less player every time they faced Real Madrid last season.
“I have zero worries. These are things that are not in our remit, that escape our hands. We play football, the referees referee and those who have to decide decide,” he said.
Llorente, in fact, said that the return of Koke could be a real boost for Atleti. “It is always good that Koke is with us, both on the field and in the day-to-day life of the game,” he said.
“Beyond the grass. The support he gives, the advice he gives us, his experience. it is always important to have him and it is great news that he is already training with us,” he added.
Talking about the absence of Vinicius Junior and the form of Jude Bellingham, Llorente said, “Well, you have to be careful with everyone. All Real Madrid players are very good and can make a difference at any moment of the game. Bellingham is having a great start and we have to take that into account and be very focused.”
Finally, Marcos Llorente put out a message for all the Atletico Madrid fans, claiming their support ahead of this crucial encounter this weekend.
“It will be a full house as always. We don’t have to tell them anything, they know the importance of this match for Atlético, we know that they never fail, they are always supporting us and we count on them,” he said.