Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid: El Derbi Madrileno Takes Centre Stage in Spain

REAL MADRID

V

ATLETICO MADRID

Week 10, Liga BBVA, Spain

Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain

8th November 2010, 01.30 AM, IST

***

It’s that time of the year, again, when the city of Madrid is visibly divided and drowned in hatred. Local rivals, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, clash in what should be a delicious contest at the Bernabeu. Real Madrid head into the fixture after successfully preserving their unbeaten record in all competitions, while Atletico Madrid are not exactly in the middle of a purple patch having struggled to notch up wins. Real Madrid is the clear favorite to win this derby, but it would be foolish to write off Atletico, who will be looking to win their first Madrid derby since 2000.

First “Real” Test

Real Madrid traveled to Milan in midweek to take on AC Milan in the Champions League and came away with a point, adding to their win against the same opponents in the Santiago Bernabeu, a few weeks back. Now that they have confirmed their entry to the knockout stages, their focus must be on maintaining their leadership in the league. While it’s true that Milan was a test for the “Men In White”, Atletico Madrid will be their first real test in the league. Los Blancos have so far managed to remain unbeaten in all competitions and have been impressive both, in attack and in defence.

Real Madrid's coach Jose Mourinho (C) reacts after his player Pedro Leon scored the equalising goal against AC Milan during their Champions League Group G match at the San Siro stadium in Milan November 3, 2010. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi (ITALY - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)
Will Jose be running again?

Against Atletico, they have a staggering record in recent times having remained unbeaten against their local rivals since 2000. This is an ideal time for the Galacticos to play against Los Colchoneros and continue their winning streak both in the league and against their poor cousins. Real had problems against Hercules last week, but should be back to their best at fortress Bernabeu on Sunday.

Always The Poor Cousin

Ever since their relegation disaster in the beginning of this decade, Atletico have looked subdued against their illustrious foes. Of the sixteen matches played against Real Madrid, Atleti have lost eleven games and drawn five of them. Interestingly, of those five draws, four have come at the Santiago Bernabeu, where they visit on Sunday.

Los Rojiblancos made some very promising signings in the summer and were expected to give the “Mighty Two” in Spain a run for their money. However, their inconsistency has come to haunt them in the league where they sit sixth, already a massive nine points behind the Galacticos. Atletico will also have had less time to rest after their Europa League exploits against Rosenborg in midweek, where they were lucky to come away with a win.

Atletico Madrid's captain Simao (C) lifts the European Super Cup soccer trophy after defeating Inter Milan at Louis II stadium in Monaco, August 27, 2010. Atletico Madrid beat Inter Milan 2- 0 in the European Super Cup at the Stade Louis II on Friday. REUTERS/Sebastien Nogier (MONACO - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)
Can the Europa League champions win on Sunday?

However, like each year, the Rojiblancos remain optimistic of their chances against the Merengues. If the dynamic duo of Aguero and Forlan can perform like they did last year in the closing stages of the campaign, we might see an Atletico triumph at the Bernabeu.

Team News and Tactical Brief

Real Madrid

In terms of team sheet, no player will be missing the important derby other than the long-term casualty, Kaka. Mourinho will be able to call his regular starting eleven. Casillas will start in goal, in front of his usual defense – Ramos, Pepe, Carvalho, and Marcelo. Alonso and Khedira will sit in front to protect the back four while the quartet of Di Maria, Ozil, Ronaldo and Higuain will go on an adventure trip to dismantle the Atletico defence.

Atletico love to play on the wings and they have some able men to help them do that, in Simao and Reyes. Marcelo and Ramos should be careful not to lunge too much forward which might play into Atletico’s hands on the counter. Real Madrid’s midfield duo of Alonso and Khedira look capable of stopping the likes of Tiago and Assuncao. The front four’s movements, passing, and shooting should provide plenty of headaches for the Atletico defence.

Probable Starting XI – Casillas; Ramos-Pepe-Carvalho-Marcelo; Alonso-Khedira; Di Maria-Ronaldo-Ozil; Higuain

Football Fans Know Better

Atletico Madrid

Quique Sanchez Flores is not the shrewdest tactician in the world and it’ll be interesting to see what he’ll come up with, to neutralize Madrid’s attacks. Atletico’s main aim will be to sit back and defend well and then hit Real Madrid on the counter where they can exploit the pace of Simao, Reyes, and Aguero to great effect.

Diego Forlan, if in form, can be a real bite in the neck for Pepe and Carvalho to deal with. His partnership with Aguero is vital if Atletico have any chance of beating Real Madrid. In defence, Filipe Luis and Juan Valera will have to be at their best to stop Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo from cutting through their defence.

Alvaro Dominguez and Ujfalusi must stop the characteristic late runs of Higuain as Real Madrid will be creating plenty of scoring opportunities. But the key to this encounter lies in Tiago’s and Assuncao’s hands in midfield. Atletico have to be possession hungry and should make sure their midfield don’t surrender the ball too easily to the Galacticos, failing which they might be in for a long night.

Probable Starting XI – De Gea; Valera-Ujfalusi-Dominguez-Filipe; Simao-Assuncao-Tiago-Reyes; Aguero-Forlan

FORM GUIDE

Real Madrid: D-W-D-W-W

Atletico Madrid: W-D-L-W-W

KEY FACTS

1. Atletico Madrid has never defeated Real Madrid after the turn of this century.

2. Of the total 145 Madrid derbies played, Real Madrid have won 79 of them, Atletico have managed to get the better of Real Madrid on 35 occasions, while 31 derbies have been draws. On the whole, Real Madrid has scored 260 times against Atletico, who have scored 197 times against Real Madrid.

3. Before Franco switched his loyalties to Real Madrid, it was Atletico who was his dear team because of Atleti’s association with the military airforce.

4. Atletico have a bad habit of conceding early goals against Real Madrid which sets them back for the rest of the match.

TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR:

David De Gea (Atletico Madrid)

May 19, 2010 - Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain - BARCELONA, 19/05/2010.- Atletico Madrid's Spaniard goalkeeper David de Gea, during the King's Cup final soccer match played against Sevilla FC at Camp Nou stadium, in Barcelona, northeastern Spain, 19 May 2010.
Watch out for De Gea if Real struggles!

It’s not very often that a player from an opposition is picked up as the key player in a match involving Real Madrid. But to stop those superstars, this young Spanish sensation has to be at his acrobatic best to earn his side a positive result. All this season, whenever Real Madrid have looked dangerous, it has been the opponent ‘keeper who has managed to stop them from demolishing their opponents. In this fixture, De Gea will be the player to watch out for. Expect some important saves from the heir to Iker Casillas.

TheHardTackle’s PREDICTION

Real Madrid 4-2 Atletico Madrid

Both the sides have plenty of talented attackers in their lineups. From Cristiano Ronaldo to Diego Forlan, anyone can cause havoc to the opponent’s defence. Real Madrid, who started the campaign on a solid note, have started to look porous and have started conceding silly goals. Atletico might want to exploit that and take maximum advantage out of it.

However, if Real Madrid is at their attacking best, we might be in for a treat for an absolutely entertaining game at the Santiago Bernabeu. Expect plenty of goals in a Real Madrid victory. No upsets to predict here!

TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST