Diego Simeone is impressed with the job Jorge Sampaoli has done at Sevilla and acknowledged that Atletico Madrid cannot afford to lose to the Andalusians on Sunday if they are to pip them to third in LaLiga.
Sevilla have impressed in their first season under Sampaoli’s stewardship, but successive LaLiga draws in their last two games has given Atletico the chance to close the gap on them.
Atletico host Sevilla knowing that a win will see them move to within just two points of the Andalusians in third, with Sampaoli’s side still likely to be licking their wounds after being dumped out of the Champions League by Leicester City on Tuesday.
But Simeone is well aware that should Sevilla provide a backlash to their midweek disappointment, an Atletico defeat will leave them a huge task to secure automatic Champions League qualification.
“The numbers speak for themselves, especially in the league,” Simeone told reporters. “He [Sampaoli] is doing a good job.
“He is a good coach and is leading Sevilla to fight with Madrid and Barcelona until the end of the season, at least so far.
“But absolutely nothing is certain in this league. So I think it would be premature to say that if we win then we are close [to third place].
“If we draw then we are far away and if we lose we are really far from that. And the numbers for sure will be indicative of that.
“It’s clear that tomorrow [Sunday] we face a team in LaLiga that have been very consistent this season.
“Obviously they are fighting to move further up the table, so for us we are going to try and play the type of game that makes us feel more comfortable.”
Atletico will be the next opponent of Sevilla’s Champions League conquerors Leicester and Simeone will not be taking them lightly, highlighting that their elimination of Sampaoli’s team speaks volumes for their stature.
“Our rival finished first in their Champions League group, they were Premier League champions last year,” Simeone said.
“And before their coach was sacked by the hierarchy of the club, Ranieri’s team managed to achieve a revelation.
“Since his departure they found themselves again. They also managed to defeat one of the best teams in the Spanish league. So I believe that speaks for itself.”