The Wanda Metropolitano prepares to host its first ever Madrid derby tonight as defending Liga champions Real Madrid take on Atletico Madrid.

Only goal difference separates these two sides on the table and Real Madrid will look to hold on to and solidify their third place position with a victory tonight. It has been a rather odd season for both sides, with a number of big names failing to perform.

Real Madrid have had suffered shock defeats at the hands of Girona, Real Betis and draws to the likes of Levante and Valencia which have put them in a difficult position on the table, a good 8 points behind league leaders Barcelona, who have a comfortable 4 point lead at the top of the table.

Atletico on the other hand are yet to lose this season, but have drawn 5 out of their 11 games in the Liga this season, which have come against Valencia, Barcelona, Girona, Villarreal and CD Leganes. Many of them could have been avoidable and had Atleti taken their chances, they would’ve likely been much closer to Barcelona at the top.

Tactics

Atletico Madrid

Diego Simeone has a full strength squad to choose from, as Koke, Filipe Luis and Yannick Carrasco have all returned after missing out on their 0-1 victory against Deportivo La Coruna a fortnight ago. As a result, we can expect 3 major changes to the starting XI that started in that game.

Jan Oblak is the obvious choice for keeper, while Juanfran, Stefan Savic and Diego Godin will be joined by Filipe Luis at the left-back. Koke and Carrasco are expected to slot right into midfield ahead of Augusto Fernandez and Thomas Partey, alongside Gabi and Saul Niguez while Angel Correa and Antoine Griezmann will likely lead the line.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Jan Oblak; Juanfran, Stefan Savic, Diego Godin, Filipe Luis; Koke, Gabi, Saul Niguez, Yannick Carrasco; Antoine Griezmann, Angel Correa

Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid(2)

Real Madrid

Gareth Bale and Keylor Navas are the only major absentees for tonight’s tie. Dani Carvajal and Raphael Varane are both expected to return to the starting XI for tonight’s tie having missed out on a number of games due to injuries.

Kiko Casilla will retain his place in goal, while Dani Carvajal may start ahead of Nacho Fernandez. Raphael Varane is expected to come in ahead of Jesus Vallejo, and he alongside Sergio Ramos will make up the center-backs while Marcelo will likely start at left-back.

Luka Modric will like come back into the squad ahead of Marco Asensio, with Casemiro, Isco  and Toni Kroos likely to retain their place in midfield. Isco is expected to start in his attacking midfield role with Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema leading the line for the reigning champions.

Probable Lineup (4-3-1-2): Kiko Casilla; Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo; Toni Kroos, Casemiro, Luka Modric; Isco; Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo

Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid(1)

Key Statistics

  • Atletico Madrid have been unbeaten in their last 15 La Liga matches.
  • In the history of the La Liga, Atletico Madrid have beaten Real Madrid 36 times, lost to them 86 times and drawn 35 matches.
  • Real Madrid have scored 22 La Liga goals this season, averaging 2 goals a game.
  • Real Madrid have scored at least 2 goals in 23 of their last 27 matches.
  • Going into this weekend, Atletico Madrid have the second best defence in the La Liga, having conceded only 6 times this season.

Player To Watch

Cristiano Ronaldo

Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo gets up after falling during the Spanish league football match Real Madrid CF vs UD Las Palmas at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on November 5, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

Cristiano Ronaldo gets up after falling during the Spanish league football match Real Madrid CF vs UD Las Palmas at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on November 5, 2017. (Picture Courtesy – Getty Images)

The Portuguese has had a difficult La Liga season. After missing 3 matches due to suspension, he has returned with seemingly little effect. In 7 games this season, he has scored only 1 goal. A terrible statistic given his near other-worldly standards.

However, he is the big man for the big occasion and Ronaldo has a fantastic record against tonight’s hosts, scoring 21 and assisting 8 goals in 29 matches against Los Rojiblancos. If there was ever a good time to kickstart his season, they don’t come much better than at the first ever Madrid derby in Atletico’s new home stadium.

Prediction

Atletico Madrid 2-2 Real Madrid

Atletico will want nothing less than a victory in their first match against Real Madrid at their new home for both pride and to leapfrog Los Blancos into third place. Real Madrid on the other hand will desperately need to hold on to their third place position if they are to keep up with Barcelona who are threatening to run away with their title.

Besides that, a victory in their first ever meeting at the Wanda Metropolitano will be priceless, as it would annoy their rivals to no end. This promises to be yet another superb encounter between the fierce rivals. We predict a hard fought match, but we expect both sides to cancel each other out.

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