Madrid Derby: Atletico vs Real Madrid Preview
Second place in La Liga is up for grabs when Real Madrid travel across town to rivals Atletico on Saturday. The home side have been in the position for most of the year but a loss would see their opponents leapfrog them.
Despite doing well in the league since the start, Los Colchoneros have managed to win just half of their previous fifteen matches. Specifically, Diego Simeone’s team are struggling in front of goal.
Only center forward Antoine Greizman has been producing up front with the Frenchman bagging ten goals so far. Meanwhile, striker Diego Costa is recovering from foot surgery.
On the other hand, Los Blancos will arrive at the Wanda Metropolitano in confident form. They are seeking their fifth straight win in the league after outscoring opponents 11-3 in the previous four games.
Additionally, Madrid began a series of tough matches with a 1-1 draw away at eternal rivals Barcelona in the cup. This mid-week victory showed a confident team ready to challenge for the league.
Nevertheless, Santiago Solari’s men still need to find a way through Atletico’s defense. Currently the best in Spain by far and well rested. Not to mention only conceding at home four times in total this year.
For the hosts, arguably their strongest starting eleven is prepared to defend their league position. Core players such as Diego Godin, Koke and Saul Niguez are available after missing last match.
It’s important to realize the difference the three can make, with Atletico falling 1-0 to Real Betis in their absence in said match. Only their second league defeat of the season.
While central defender Stefan Savic continues to nurse an Achilles injury, Jose Gimenez will partner Godin at the back. Most agree the Uruguayan international is no downgrade and deserves to start already.
For Real Madrid the only injury of note is midfielder Marcos Llorente. The 24 year old hurting his groin in El Clasico on Wednesday. As a result, Casemiro is a certain start in midfield.
Marcelo is also expected to be dropped for Sergio Reguilón at left back. Meanwhile, forwards Gareth Bale and Marco Asensio are heavy favorites to start after having minimal roles in the aforementioned mid-week clash.
Lineups and Prediction
Atletico Madrid: Oblak; Arias, Gimenez, Godin, Lucas Hernandez; Koke, Thomas, Rodri, Saul; Griezmann, Morata
Real Madrid: Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Reguilon; Casemiro, Modric, Kroos; Bale, Benzema, Asensio
Although the momentum is surely with the whites at the moment, a win for them would take something special. Unless on-loan striker Alvaro Morata punishes his former club, Atletico will struggle to score against a much improved Madrid defense as well.
Real will be organized and confident of holding their opponents when they attack. However, Solari’s team are just as unlikely to find the back Jan Oblak’s net. Bale has largely been unreliable up front and Asensio continues to find his form after recovering from injury.
Much will depend on the Welshman and his teammate’s ability to affect the match. As it stands, a fifth consecutive draw in the Madrid derby seems probable and would be welcomed by the home side. Kickoff is at 10:15 am EST.
Atletico Madrid 1 – 1 Real Madrid
Photo credit to Real Madrid via Flickr