Sevilla striker Kevin Gameiro wants his side to use Sunday’s visit of Atletico Madrid to prove they can more than mix it with the top sides as they prepare for a return to the Champions League this season.
Sevilla have won back-to-back Europa League titles over the last two years but they will be back amongst the continent’s elite this term, and on Thursday were drawn in a daunting-looking Champions League group alongside Juventus, Manchester City and Borussia Monchengladbach.
The Andalusian club’s opening Group D game is at home to Monchengladbach on September 15, but their immediate attention is on this weekend’s clash with an Atletico side who have developed into one of Europe’s top sides under coach Diego Simeone.
Atletico started their Primera Division season with a 1-0 win over newly-promoted Las Palmas last weekend while Sevilla held out for a goalless draw at Malaga despite playing the last 20 minutes with a man less.
Gameiro said on his club’s official website: “The game against Malaga was a difficult one and we got a good point.
“We are working hard to win at home against Atletico on Sunday.
“It’s a really challenging game because we know Atletico are a very strong group.
“But we are playing at home and we need to prove that we can beat these types of teams.”
Sevilla won 13 of their 19 league games at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium last season, losing just once, but missed out on a top-four finish by a single point to Valencia.
However, they still earned a place in the Champions League courtesy of their Europa League triumph and they will be hoping to emulate their last appearance in the group stages when, in the 2009/10 season, they progressed to the knock-out stages.
Coach Unai Emery said: “Manchester City and Juventus are favorites. But we have to raise our standard and compete in order to make a name for ourselves in this competition just as we have done in the Europa League.”
Atletico, who finished third in La Liga last season having won the title the previous year, have been drawn alongside Galatasaray, Benfica and tournament newcomers Astana in Group C.
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“In the group phase, there is little room for mistakes,” Atletico captain Gabi said on his club’s official website. “It’s a balanced group and we have to be focused from the start.”
Atletico hope to have Brazil international Luis Filipe available after he sustained a thigh problem against Las Palmas , but if he fails to make it then Jesus Gamez will take his place in defense.
Emery, meanwhile, could hand new signing Fernando Llorente his debut as Sevilla look to record their first win over Atletico in five years.
The Spain international trained with Sevilla on Friday after completing a permanent move from Juventus.
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