Estadio Vicente Calderon, Madrid
Saturday 6th February, 15:00 GMT
Atletico Madrid have the chance to get closer to the top of the table as they face their nearest rivals Real Madrid on Saturday. Atletico are 7 points behind their derby rivals and have a big opportunity to get themselves closer to the title race which currently looks like it will be a very competitive one between the three giants – Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico. Diego Simeone’s side have enjoyed sufficient rest and giving their performance against Real so far this season, they will be full of confidence.
Real Madrid meanwhile find themselves in a very difficult situation. Having played a highly physical game on Wednesday, Real Madrid have another challenge on Saturday as they face Atletico at the Calderon to protect their four point advantage at the top. Ancelotti’s biggest challenge will be to avoid defeat and if possible beat their derby rivals for the first time this season with a rather depleted squad. A win will help Real maintain a four point lead over second placed Barcelona and gain a huge 10 point advantage over Atletico Madrid.
Team News and Tactics
Atletico Madrid have the chance to get themselves in a better position to fight the league battle and also cut down Real Madrid’s lead at the top. Last year’s champions certainly have it in them to beat Real Madrid or at least hold them to a draw considering their current run of form against the league leaders. Atletico are expected to play their usual style of football displaying their quality defensively and exploiting their opponents on the counter-attack. Set-pieces will be the key for Atletico as they will look to make full use of every corner and free-kick. Diego Simeone’s side will play a highly physical game in front of their passionate fans.
The big news for Atletico will be the fact that Koke and Arda Turan have recovered and will be available for selection on Saturday. Griezmann and Mandzukic have been on a great run of form which probably means January signing Fernando Torres will have to warm the bench and come on as a substitute.
Probable Line-Up (4-4-1-1): Moya; Juanfran, Godin, Gimenez, Siqueira; Turan, Gabi, Tiago, Koke; Griezmann; Mandzukic;
Real Madrid will play their natural attacking football as they will enjoy a lot of possession. However, Real will have to be alert defensively, especially at the start of the game and while defending set-pieces, where they have looked vulnerable throughout the season. Varane and Nacho will have to rise above the odds and deliver in the absence of the experienced centre-back duo of Pepe and Ramos. With Ronaldo available for selection, the front three of Benzema, Bale and Ronaldo are expected to deliver in this big encounter. The derby will also prove to a big test of the European Champion’s temperament as Atletico will definitely play a rough game.
Ancelotti is now suffering the bitter consequences of lack of rotation. Real Madrid who played against Sevilla on Wednesday are without their two main centre-backs Sergio Ramos and Pepe, both are suffering from injuries along with left-back Marcelo facing suspension for accumulating too many yellow cards. Modric and James are the other two key figures that will miss the derby on Saturday as Modric is yet to recover from his injury while James picked up a fracture against Sevilla which will see him ruled out for approximately two months.
Probable Line-Up (4-3-3): Casillas; Carvajal, Varane, Nacho, Coentrao; Khedira, Kroos, Isco; Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo;
- Real Madrid play their 4000th competitive game on Saturday.
- The game on Saturday is the sixth ‘Madrid Derby’ of the season. Out of the previous five games, Real Madrid have failed to win a single having drawn two and lost three.
Atletico Madrid 1-1 Real Madrid
Considering the head-to-head performances of both the teams, the match will be a high tempo competitive tussle to grab the three points. Both teams are evenly matched but Atletico have the advantage of enjoying more rest over the week and the availability of most of their key players. The game at the Calderon will be an exciting battle where both teams will give their all to see a positive result. We can safely expect the match to end in a 1-1 draw.