It’s Madrid derby time as league leaders Real Madrid pay a Saturday night visit to bitter city rivals Atlético Madrid as Los Blancos aim to extend their one-point lead at the top of the table.
It’s a huge chance for Diego Simeone and his Atleti men to stop and overtake Los Blancos as the Wanda Metropolitano stadium host one of Europe’s fiercest derbies on Sunday.
Los Colchoneros are looking to build on their most recent result – their 2-0 win over Mallorca on Wednesday. However, Real Madrid are also enjoying a sweet spell, having bounced back from their defeat to PSG with two victories, keeping consecutive clean sheets in wins over Sevilla and Osasuna.
Atletico’s home record has been near-perfect, as Simeone’s side has won 10 of their last 13 games at the Wanda Metropolitano. Ironically, it was Real Madrid who handed them their most recent defeat at their venue back in February.
It’s always a close battle though whenever these two sides meet, with three of their last four league games ending in stalemates.
However, the last time these La Liga giants faced off in a preseason International Champions Cup encounter, Atleti hammered Los Blancos 7-3, with Diego Costa scoring four goals before he was sent off on a memorable day in New Jersey.
What the managers say…
“We just want to put in a good performance, that’s it. We know how tough the game is going to be.
“We’re going to have to do a lot of things during the game. It’s not just about intensity.”
“I think that Real Madrid have very good players and when they take advantage of the spaces they are tough to defend against.
“Bale is growing, Benzema is in fine form and Hazard has great qualities,” he added, independently of the initial question.
“These types of matches are tight and are defined by details which sway the game to one side or another.
“Real Madrid improved a lot in Seville, and continued in that way against Osasuna even when they made changes. I imagine they will continue on that path.
“Madrid have a very strong backbone, and maintain the potential they have as a team.
“Casemiro and Benzema are very important players.
“Madrid have improved a lot, have great players and a great coach, we will have to perform very well to make the game difficult for them.”
Alvaro Morata will miss the weekend’s action after picking up two yellow cards against Real Mallorca.
Joao Felix will be asked to partner Diego Costa up front for the home side as a result.
Thomas Lemar is expected to be given a start on the left-hand side of midfield as a result, with Koke on the opposite flank.
Ferland Mendy and Marcelo are both sidelined due to injury for the visitors, which will see Nacho feature at left-back.
Toni Kroos and Casemiro should anchor the midfield, with Luka Modric still not fully fit.
Eden Hazard, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale should rotate back into the front three after a midweek rest.
There have been under 2.5 goals scored in 8 of Atletico’s last 10 home games (LaLiga).
Atletico are undefeated in their last 10 home matches (LaLiga).
Real Madrid have won their last 3 matches (LaLiga).
Atleti are keeping clean sheets proving they’re still defensively solid while Zidane’s men rarely fail to score away from home. Something however must give way on Saturday.
Tip: Both teams to score.