Atletico Madrid are favorites to secure a meeting with local rivals Real Madrid in the final of the Copa del Rey final as they take a 2-1 lead into the second leg of their semifinal against Sevilla.
It has been a strong season for Atletico as they sit second in La Liga, ahead of Madrid, and the opportunity to put one over their near neighbors in the cup as well as the league must surely be a tantalizing prospect.
Having surprisingly ended their defense of the Europa League with a defeat to Rubin Kazan, the Copa del Rey also represents the last chance for manager Diego Simeone to win a trophy this campaign and get tangible reward for his side’s efforts.
Simeone is taking nothing for granted, though, as he takes his team to Sevilla’s Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. The Argentinean believes that the team that wins the battle in the center of the pitch will come out on top.
“Whoever manages to be stronger in midfield is more likely to win because the two teams have good offensive players,” he said, according to Atletico’s official Web site.
Atletico warmed up for the match with a hard-fought win over Espanyol on Sunday, having played for 45 minutes with 10 men.
In contrast, Sevilla have had a disappointing campaign. Consistency has been a problem throughout and they currently find themselves down in 12th place in La Liga. There has been an improvement since Unai Emery took the reins last month, however, with the only defeats since coming to Spain’s top three of Atletico, Real Madrid and, on Saturday, Barcelona.
Emery is clearly putting much focus on overturning their deficit in this semifinal and elected to rest both Alvaro Negredo and Jose Reyes at the weekend.
D: Coke, Fazio, Spahic, Navarro
M: Kondogbia, Medel
Navas, Rakitic, Reyes
Atletico Madrid (probable)
D: Juanfran, Miranda, Godin, Luis
M: Koke, Tiago, Gabi, Turan
F: Falcao, Costa
Prediction: Sevilla look set to put everything into making a comeback and securing a place in the final to rescue an otherwise poor season. But Atletico again showed at the weekend the mental and physical toughness that Simeone has instilled in his team and they should just do enough to secure a meeting with Real Madrid.
Sevilla 1-1 Atletico Madrid
Where to watch: The second leg of the Copa del Rey semifinal will kick-off at 4 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by beIN Sport. A live stream, which you view at your own discretion, will be available here.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.