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Friday, 18 January, 2019

New stadium but same old Atletico Madrid

Carrasco and Saul the stars

Atletico celebrate their win over Sevilla
1 of 1

La Liga
Atletico 2    Seville 0
Carrasco 46
Griezmann 69

Chelsea head to Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday no doubt delighted they won't have to run out at the Vicente Calderon but although they're now playing in a new stadium, it's the same old Atletico.

Diego Simeone's side warmed up for the visit of the Premier League champions with a 2-0 victory over a previously unbeaten Sevilla side which highlighted just why so few teams relish taking on the 2014 and 2016 Champions League finalists.

Simeone called the new surprisingly atmospheric Wanda Metropolitano a "Roman circus" and his gladiators will be ready for Chelsea in a match where punters should be looking to be against goals judging by this performance.

Under 2.5 goals is 4-6 and 'no' in the both teams to score market at
9-10 could be of interest as Atletico did not allow Sevilla a shot on target in the entire 90 minutes despite Simeone resting influential centre-back Diego Godin.

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Sevilla threatened twice - Pablo Sarabia's early long-range effort hit the post after two deflections while the second occasion was a goalmouth scramble following a corner.

Apart from that ace keeper Jan Oblak was expertly protected and not just by the solid rearguard.

The whole team is organised to defend from the front so the forwards drop deep, the midfield quartet are never far from the back four and the defence allows little space for opponents in behind.

It's been the same for years but it's still quite amazing that the players never seem to tire of doing the same things week after week.

However, from an offensive point of view Chelsea should feel confident they possess the personnel to stifle Atletico given the hosts are determined to play safety-first football.

Rarely in the first half did Atletico threaten apart from when former Blue Filipe Luis smacked the crossbar and it was a mistake from Sevilla which changed the flow of the game just after half-time.

Steven N'Zonzi's back pass lacked direction and it was pounced upon by the excellent Yannick Carrasco before the Belgian winger helped to turn provider for Antoine Griezmann's goal which killed the game.

Carrasco was the one player who looked as if he had licence to roam and make a difference, and Atletico were otherwise narrow in midfield. Saul Niguez sits centrally alongside Gabi and Koke is nominally from the right but is usually close to the pair. 

Griezmann was quiet apart from his goal and Simeone is clearly struggling to find the right partner for the Frenchman, hence his decision to buy Diego Costa, who is unavailable until January.

The lightweight but lively Luciano Vietto did his best work in areas of little danger and was replaced by Angel Carrera before the hour-mark, while Kevin Gameiro got less than ten minutes. Fernando Torres was not even in the matchday squad.

Carrasco would be the one to take out of this for first goalscorer backers but also keep an eye on Saul, who seems to be the player Atletico look for from set-piece situations.


Seville had the vast majority of possession (61 per cent) but it was in areas where Atletico were happy for the visitors to have the ball and they were unable to get any kind of service up to Luis Muriel.

It was strange to see Ever Banega playing so deep, often taking the ball off the centre-backs and the number ten possibly could have done more damage in an advanced position.

However, from a defensive point of view they were comfortable until N'Zonzi's uncharacteristic error and Sevilla should be aiming for fourth spot in La Liga as well as the last 16 of the Champions League.

Atletico Madrid 4-4-2: Oblak; Vrsaljko, Savic, Lucas, Filipe Luis; Koke, Saul, Gabi, Carrasco (Gameiro 81); Griezmann (Thomas 72), Vietto (Correa 57).

Sevilla 4-2-3-1: Rico; Mercado (Krohn-Dehli 77), Lenglet, Carrico, Carole; N'Zonzi, Banega; Navas, Vazquez, Sarabia (Correa 58); Muriel (Ben Yedder 68).  

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Simeone is clearly struggling to find the right partner for Griezmann, hence his decision to buy Diego Costa, who is unavailable until January.
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