Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid will lock horns at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday in the first El Derbi Madrileno of the 2019-20 La Liga season.

La Liga leaders Real Madrid will look to extend their lead at the top of the table when they face off against neighbours Atletico Madrid in the first Madrileno derby of the season on Saturday night.

After back to back victories against Sevilla and Osasuna, Real Madrid have moved to the top of the standings. Zinedine Zidane’s side have collected 14 points from six matches so far and will be aiming to collect three more points against their fierce rivals and extend their lead at the top.

After three matches without a win across all competitions, Atletico Madrid returned to winning ways on Tuesday night, beating Mallorca 2-0. Currently stationed in the third spot in the La Liga table, a point below their neighbours, Diego Simeone’s side will have an eye on usurping the top spot with a victory against Zidane’s side at home.

The two teams had met in the pre-season when Atletico Madrid had brutally thrashed Real Madrid 7-3 in the International Champions Cup. And ahead of this much-anticipated match-up this weekend, we at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at both the teams;

Team News & Tactics

Atletico Madrid

Alvaro Morata is suspended for the derby (Photo by JAIME REINA/AFP/Getty Images)

Alvaro Morata is suspended for the derby (Photo by JAIME REINA/AFP/Getty Images)

Los Rojiblancos will be without the services of striker Alvaro Morata who received a red card in the win against Mallorca earlier this week, while Sime Vrsaljko is ruled out with a knee injury. No other absentees for manager Simeone to deal with, but he is likely to make a few changes to the side for the derby.

There is no looking past Slovenian international Jan Oblak in goal, who will be in search of his fifth clean sheet in the league this season. One change is a given in defence, with Kieran Trippier expected to replace Santiago Arias at right-back. The rest of the defence should remain intact with Stefan Savic and Jose Maria Gimenez at centre-back and Renan Lodi at left-back.

Saul Niguez started out wide in the last game, but is expected to move into the middle of the park for the derby on Saturday. The Spaniard will be partnered by the ever-present Thomas Partey with former Real Madrid man Marcos Llorente starting on the bench.

Thomas Lemar seems to have recovered from his hamstring injury and was seen training ahead of the derby. However, Simeone is unlikely to thrust him back into action right away, meaning Vitolo should get the nod once again on Saturday. He should start out wide on the right flank, with captain Koke slotting on the left side of the midfield four.

Diego Costa and Joao Felix both scored in the midweek win against Mallorca and should resume their partnership in the final third against Real Madrid.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Oblak; Trippier, Savic, Gimenez, Lodi; Vitolo, Partey, Niguez, Koke; Costa, Felix

Real Madrid

Marcelo and Modric are back in training (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP/Getty Images)

Marcelo and Modric are back in training (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP/Getty Images)

Los Blancos have been boosted by the return of Luka Modric and Isco, both of whom will be available for the blockbuster clash at the Wanda Metropolitano. Marcelo too has returned to training, but is likely to sit this one out. Marco Asensio remains sidelined for though along with Ferland Mendy, while fellow summer arrival Rodrygo will be involved with Castilla this week.

There will be a number of changes to the starting lineup that took the field against Osasuna in the midweek. Starting from goal, Thibaut Courtois should reclaim his spot under the woodwork after being overlooked for Alphonse Areola in the last match. Dani Carvajal and Raphael Varane should return in defence, with captain Sergio Ramos and Nacho completing the back four.

Casemiro has been important in Real Madrid’s recent revival and should continue in the double pivot in the middle of the park. He will once again be paired with German international Toni Kroos, while Colombian playmaker James Rodriguez is expected to return to the side on Saturday, starting in the No. 10 role.

Vinicius Junior scored in the win against Osasuna earlier this week, but is likely to drop to the bench, with marquee summer signing Eden Hazard expected to start on the left wing. Gareth Bale is also set to feature on Saturday, starting on the right flank replacing Lucas Vazquez. Karim Benzema should return to spearhead the attack after being benched in the last game.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Nacho; Casemiro, Kroos; Bale, Rodriguez, Hazard; Benzema

Key Stats

  • Real Madrid are unbeaten in their last six La Liga derbies against Atletico Madrid (W2 D4), after failing to win any of their previous six before this run (D2 L4).
  • Atletico Madrid have won just one of their last 18 La Liga home games against Real Madrid (D5 L12) – a 4-0 victory that came in February 2015.
  • Real Madrid have won their last two games in La Liga, keeping a clean sheet in both and without any shot on target faced. This is the first time since 2003-04 that Real Madrid haven’t allowed any shot on target in consecutive league matches.
  • Atletico Madrid have just lost one of their last 23 La Liga games at Wanda Metropolitano (W17 D5), keeping a clean sheet in 15 of them. Their only defeat in that run came against Real Madrid in February 2019 (1-3).
  • As Real Madrid manager, Zinedine Zidane has faced Diego Simeone eight times in all competitions (W2 D4 L2), more than against any other coach.

Player to Watch

Karim Benzema

Coming up with the goods consistently (Photo by Curto de la Torre/AFP/Getty Images)

Coming up with the goods consistently (Photo by Curto de la Torre/AFP/Getty Images)

Amidst a scratchy start to the new season for Real Madrid, star striker Karim Benzema has easily been their best and most consistent performer. The 31-year-old has scored five goals in five La Liga appearances, including the only goal of the game against Sevilla last weekend. He also has a solitary assist to his name this term.

Benzema doesn’t have the best of records against Atletico Madrid, having scored just four goals in 29 appearances against the Colchoneros in all competitions. But, after being rested against Osasuna, the Frenchman will be raring to go on Saturday in the derby. A lot will be riding on his shoulders if Real Madrid are to return with three points from the Wanda Metropolitano.

Prediction

Atletico Madrid 1-1 Real Madrid

Real Madrid have won two games on the bounce and will be confident heading into the derby on Saturday. Atletico Madrid too will be in high spirits after returning to winning ways earlier in the week. After a stuttering period, both the capital clubs have made improvements in defence, keeping clean sheets in back-to-back matches.

As is the case with all Madrileno derbies, the contest on Saturday too will be keenly contested. The two teams look equally matched in almost every department, making it difficult to call this one. We at The Hard Tackle are expecting this one to end in a scored stalemate, with spoils being shared between the two teams.

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