Julen Lopetegui will be privy to his first Madrid derby in La Liga as Real Madrid look to bounce back with a win over Atletico Madrid on Saturday.
Sevilla provided Real Madrid a harsh reality check. Not only were Julen Lopetegui’s men beaten during the midweek, the manner of the defeat will surely leave a sour taste in their mouth. But, in general, their recent trips to Sevilla have mostly resulted in losses and it is something Lopetegui will use to motivate his players for the Madrid derby on Saturday.
Atletico Madrid, on the other hand, have finally managed to string together consecutive wins after a poor start to the season. The summer arrivals are beginning to gel together with the rest of the team and the results have started to flow.
A win for Real Madrid will see them bounce back from the Sevilla defeat and continue their march towards the top of the La Liga table. Atletico Madrid, on the other hand, can go above Real Madrid, if they manage to grab a win at Santiago Bernabeu.
Their last trip to the Bernabeu in La Liga yielded a 1-1 draw. Ahead of their latest meeting, we take a closer look at the two sides.
Team News & Tactics
Isco is suffering from appendicitis and will sit the Madrid derby out. But, Julen Lopetegui will be more concerned with the availability of his first-choice full-backs. Marcelo limped off during the defeat to Sevilla and is a major doubt. Should he not make it in time, Nacho could start on the left for Real Madrid.
Dani Carvajal is also carrying a knock but could still be fit in time to start against Atletico Madrid. Thibaut Courtois should start in goal despite conceding three against Sevilla.
With Isco out, the quintessential Real Madrid trio of Casemiro, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos will feature in the midfield. Marco Asensio has hit a purple patch and Julen Lopetegui will likely look at using it so long it lasts, with the youngster set to start against Atletico Madrid.
Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema should fill up the rest of the spots upfront, with the duo expected to fire Real to a win.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Courtois; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Nacho; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Bale, Benzema, Asensio
While Diego Simeone does not have any confirmed absentees, the likes of Jose Gimenez, Santiago Arias and Stefan Savic are all doubtful for the Madrid derby. Arias and Savic are likely to sit this one out. But, Gimenez is likely to make it in time to partner compatriot Diego Godin at the back.
Juanfran should take his place on the right while Lucas Hernandez could be preferred over Filipe Luis on the left.
Rodri has been a breath of fresh air after Atletico Madrid decided to sign the youngster back and the midfielder is likely to partner Koke at the heart of the four-man midfield. Thomas Lemar should start on the left, with Saul Niguez taking his rightful place on the right.
Diego Costa and Antoine Griezmann are expected lead the Atletico attack, as always.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Oblak; Juanfran, Gimenez, Godin, Lucas; Saul, Rodri, Koke, Lemar; Costa, Griezmann
1. Real Madrid have won their last four home games, scoring 10 and conceding just one.
2. Atletico Madrid have failed to score just once in their last six trips to the Santiago Bernabeu.
3. The Madrid derby is always a fiery affair, with the last six games at the Bernabeu yielding 37 cards.
4. Gareth Bale has a poor record against Atletico Madrid, with just one goal and seven assists in 14 appearances against Los Rojiblancos.
5. Sergio Ramos is the only Real Madrid player to have featured in every minute of the 2018-19 season.
Player to Watch
The youngster has been linked with the likes of Barcelona and Manchester United in recent weeks. With Marcelo out and Nacho likely to fill in, Saul Niguez will hope to get some joy on the right wing. Saul has a knack of scoring in Atletico’s wins over Real Madrid and he will be crucial for the away side’s fortunes.
Real Madrid 2-3 Atletico Madrid
Real Madrid are yet to become a stable side under Julen Lopetegui. Individual heroics have carried them so far this season. But, Sevilla revealed the chinks in the home side’s armour, which Atletico Madrid will be keen on exploiting as well. Expect Diego Simeone to come prepared.
We should be in for a treat on Saturday. But, we are tipping Atletico Madrid to edge Real Madrid out at the Bernabeu.