Vicente Calderon, Madrid
February 11, 2014; 20:00 GMT
The second leg of the Madrid derby has all the potential to turn into an explosive match as Atletico Madrid prepare to chase three goals in order to earn a berth in the Copa del Rey finals. Taught a severe lesson in football at the Santiago Bernabeu, Diego Simeone is expected to go out all guns blazing in the hope of turning the tie around.
The first leg of the semi-finals turned out to be a damp affair after Real Madrid took total control of the match, scoring two lucky goals to lead the tie 3-0. With Atletico Madrid turning out to be all sound and no fury, the second leg will be a crucial test for Diego Simeone who will be coming into the match after relinquishing their position at the top of the La Liga table.
“Is it possible? There are 90 minutes of football still to be played.”-Diego Simeone
With the home crowd on their side, Atletico Madrid need to score three goals to tie the fixture but with leading goal scorer Diego Costa unavailable for the match after picking up a yellow card in the first leg, Diego Simeone is well aware that he is running out of options upfront. David Villa’s availability also hangs in doubt after he picked up an injury against Real Sociedad and it will be interesting to see how Atletico Madrid’s attack shapes up without the team’s leading goal-scorers.
Trailing by three goals, it is quite sure that Atletico Madrid will not be sitting deep but will instead look to exploit Real Madrid’s weaknesses. Atletico Madrid were not playing to their potential in the last leg as the midfielders failed to link up with the forwards to create goal-scoring opportunities. Both of Atletico’s best chances in the last-leg came from the end of a cross-the first was crossed in by Raul Garcia which found Arda Turan in the penalty box only to be punched away by Iker Casillas while the other came from a corner met which was met by Gabi only to be cleared from the lines. Hence Atletico Madrid will be focusing to exploit Real Madrid from set-pieces and will be looking to mount the pressure early on.
Midfielder Koke summed up Atletico’s preparations for second leg of the semi-final in his interaction with the press.
“In football everything is possible. We will give everything for the team and the fans, because that’s what they deserve.
Expected Line-Up: Courtois-Juanfran-Insua-Miranda-Godin-Diego Ribas-Gabi-Koke-Raul Garcia-Arda Turan-Adrian Lopez
Comfortably in the driver’s seat, Real Madrid will know better than to take their foot off the gas with only 90 minutes to go before they earn a place in the Copa del Rey finals. Having outplayed their rivals tactically and physically in the first leg, Real Madrid will be looking to beat Atletico Madrid at home to give the fans and players a morale boost as the season enters its crucial stage.
Having said that, Atletico Madrid are no push-overs and Real Madrid will have to be at their best in order to prevent Diego Simeone from turning the tie in the second half. With Atletico Madrid chasing goals, Real will have to organise their defence and midfield in a way to contain the pressure and break into quick counter-attacks to close the tie. Real Madrid will be looking to score a single goal at Vicente Calderon which will force Atletico to chase 5 goals looking for an over-all victory.
In his pre-match press conference, Carlo Ancelotti revealed that Varane will be starting the match at Vicente Calderon on Tuesday as both Sergio Ramos and Pepe are just a single card away from earning a suspension.
“Varane will play tomorrow because he is fully recovered and it is important for him to be part of the competition. He has everything to be a great centerback: quality, speed, tactical knowledge, good positioning and enthusiasm. It is great that he is back with the team.”
Cristiano Ronaldo too will earn a starting spot after Ancelotti announced that he has to keep the interest of the team ahead of individual players. Talking about Isco, he said that he understood that the player is unhappy due to the lack of games meted out to him but as the manager of Real Madrid, it is the team that gets the priority ahead of individual players.
“It is not easy to be fair with each of the players. My job here is to do what I think is the best for Real Madrid, and perhaps this will make me be unfair with certain players, like Isco. Maybe he is not too happy right now, because he is not playing as much as he wants, and I like that. He has been important for us so far, and hopefully at the end of the season we will have a good overall vision of what he has done for us.”
Talking about the referees in Spain, Ancelotti opined that the officials in Spain are under much more pressure than those in England.
“The difference with respect to other countries [is that] here, as in Italy, the referees are under more pressure. Under more pressure, it’s more difficult for them to do their job.”
Though Coentrao and Marcelo both suffered an injury scare on Saturday against Villarreal, Ancelotti assured the press that all his players are available for the upcoming match.
Expected Line-Up: Casillas-Varane-Ramos-Arbeloa-Marcelo-Modric-Alonso-Ronaldo-Bale-Di Maria-Benzema
- Real Madrid have the best attacking record in the league while Atletico Madrid have the best defensive record.
- Both Atletico and Real Madrid have earned 57 points in the La Liga so far, though Real Madrid leads Ateltico Madrid on goal-difference.
Player(s) to Watch-Out For:
Cristiano Ronaldo has had a quiet few games and will be looking to earn his name back on the score-sheet on Tuesday. Having been handed a 3 match suspension in the La Liga, the Portuguese will be looking to grab the headlines with his performance against Atletico Madrid. On the other hand, one cannot rule out Gareth Bale who made his comeback on Saturday and will be looking to replicate his match-winning performance.
Meanwhile, Koke will be playing an extremely important part come Tuesday. If Atletico Madrid are to win, then it will be Koke who will have to step up and put forward a stellar performance.
Atletico Madrid 2-Real Madrid 2
With Atletico Madrid playing without inhibitions, the game has a high chance of turning into a goal-fest. Though Real Madrid do not boast of having a great defence, its quick and lightening counter-attacks might be a bit too much for Atletico to handle.