Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone says he sees Sunday's opponents Sevilla as a potential challenger for the La Liga title this season.
Atletico are undefeated in their last 13 matches against Sevilla in all competitions, and have won on three of their last four visits to the Estadio Sanchez Pizjuan, including a convincing 3-0 victory in this fixture last season.
However, under new coach Jorge Sampaoli, Sevilla have started 2016-17 impressively and now sit third in the table, just one point behind current leaders Atletico, having won all four of their home La Liga games this season.
Speaking at his prematch news conference, Simeone said his former team had grown to become contenders to La Liga's major sides.
"I see Sevilla, along with ourselves, in the teams who are trying to compete against Real Madrid and Barcelona," he said. "Sevilla are growing every year, winning trophies, and have had an exciting start to the season.
"They have many new players, a different style than before, but they are showing in their games how competitive they are. Their coach has a very clear idea, takes risks, presses forward for the ball, which makes them dangerous. They are going well in the Champions League, and strong in La Liga."
Atletico are taking a more positive approach so far this season, but Simeone denied there had been any big change in philosophy at the Vicente Calderon.
"We always try and look to play in a way which brings the game to a place where we feel comfortable," he said. "It is all the time more difficult to pick the team, there is a lot of competition for places with the players I have. I am not committed to any one way of playing. I am not that type of coach. I always look for the best way of putting together the players I have."
Sampaoli is known as a disciple of former Argentina coach Marcelo Bielsa, who Simeone played under at international level without much success near the end of his playing career.
"I have the influence of various coaches -- Marcelo, [Carlos] Bilardo, [Sven-Goran] Eriksson, [Alfio] Basile," Simeone said. "Many more who I do not want to forget. Although I do not see the comparison between Bielsa and the Sevilla coach. [Sampaoli] is a very good coach, with clear ideas, but I never like comparisons."
Friday saw Atletico agree a new contract with in-form winger Yannick Carrasco, who has extended his deal with the club up until 2022.
"Yannick is improving," Simeone added. "He has improved in general play, in intensity, tactically -- not just staying on the left wing but free to pop up in different areas of the pitch. The new contract is deserved, a prize for the work he has done. We at the club are happy to be working with young players who have a great future."