Zinedine Zidane and Diego Simeone’s men will meet in an epic Madrid Derby finale miles away from Spain in Saudi Arabia.
El Derbi Madrileño awaits for the supporters at the Supercopa de Espana final on Sunday evening at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Real Madrid are coming to this match with a 3-1 win over Valencia and Los Merengues are beaming with confidence ahead of this all-important derby. Zinedine Zidane’s second tenure started as a bumpy ride but currently, the Frenchman has got his mojo back and his team’s performance have also elevated with time.
On the other hand, Atletico Madrid this season have been full of unpredictability. Diego Simeone’s men have beaten the high flying Barcelona in the semifinals and are in good stead even in La Liga but there was a time when they struggled for goals are had a streak of consecutive stalemates.
With both the teams in good form, the stage is set for an epic clash between the city rivals. These two clubs have not allowed the supporters any dull moment in the past and this looks to be another historic encounter. Before the all-important finale, we at the Hard tackle will take a closer look at both sides.
Tactics and Team News
Zidane does not have much to choose from with injuries to Karim Benzema who joined Marco Asensio and Eden Hazard on the sidelines and has not travelled to Saudi Arabia with the squad. Therefore the French tactician may opt for the same team that played against Valencia in the semi-finals.
Los Blancos may again opt for a narrower 4-3-2-1 formation with Belgian custodian Thibaut Courtois being the mainstay between the sticks. The former Chelsea goalkeeper has finally found some form in Real Madrid colours.
The back four should remain the same as Zidane likes consistency in defence. Sergio Ramos will lead the Real Madrid defence and he will be partnered by Raphael Varane at the heart of the backline while Dani Carvajal and Ferland Mendy will slot in the full-back positions.
It will be a packed midfield with five players which will include three at the base of the field and two players who will be given the license to roam freely and latch onto the free spaces near the final third. Casemiro will cover the backline and break up play and the Brazilian will be partnered by Federico Valverde’s energy and tenacity and Toni Kroos’ creativity.
The two free roles will be taken by Luka Modric and Isco who will play as inverted wingers and look to drag out defenders to create space for Luka Jovic, who is likely to start as the lone striker upfront.
Probable Lineup (4-3-2-1): Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Mendy; Valverde, Casemiro, Kroos; Modric, Isco; Jovic
Diego Simeone also has few players missing from this crucial final match, as Thomas Lemar and Diego Costa are sidelined. Spanish midfielder Koke is also in doubt after sustaining an injury against Barcelona in the semifinals.
Los Rojiblancos are expected to field their side in a conventional 4-4-2 formation with Jan Oblak guarding the goal and organizing the defence. Stefan Savic, who returned after injury to play the match against Barcelona, is likely to partner Felipe at the centre while Kieran Trippier and Renan Lodi will add speed and creativity from wider areas in defence.
In midfield the hero of the semifinal, Angel Correa will start along with Saul Niguez on the flanks. With Koke injured Simeone will be forced to continue with Hector Herrera as the Mexican’s experience can be valuable in these big matches. Thomas Partey will partner Herrera and will also look to add inject that energy in a midfield that looks a bit bland in terms of creativity.
Upfront, Simeone has opted for the young sensation Joao Felix and partnering him will be Alvaro Morata. The former Real Madrid striker will have a chance to prove himself in front of his former club with a silverware at stake in a derby.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Oblak; Trippier, Savic, Felipe, Lodi; Correa, Herrera, Partey, Saul; Morata, Felix
- This is the first time that the Supercopa de Espana final will be played with neither the reigning La Liga champions and reigning Copa del Rey champions being involved in it.
- Real Madrid has a huge upper hand against their city rivals in head to head record, having won 110 times against them with Atletico Madrid only managing to win 56 matches.
- The Rojiblancos will look to take revenge of their agonizing losses against Real Madrid in the Champions League finals in 2014 and also in 2016.
- Alvaro Morata has scored two times in three matches against his former team Real Madrid and will be a key weapon for Simeone in this big fixture especially with multiple top players unavailable.
Player to Watch
The man who simply broke the internet with his sensational corner kick goal has to be the man to keep an eye on in the finale. Kroos can always be that player who can pop up with an exquisite pass that leads to a goal, or even come up with a thunderous strike to ripple the back of the net from distance.
Be whatever it is, his influence in Real Madrid’s supremacy cannot be denied. The German international has nerves of steel and has played in several derbies so it should not be a matter of pressure for him.
Kroos has been instrumental since Zidane’s return to the helm and the statistics of two goals and three assists this season in La Liga does not do justice tp the 30-year old’s presence in Los Blancos’ midfield. If Atletico Madrid are not cautious, Kroos may slip out of hand and may pop up with a game-changing goal or assist.
Real Madrid 2-1 Atletico Madrid
Both the clubs from Madrid are in red hot form. Atletico Madrid showed immense character to churn out a win from behind against Barcelona in the semifinals. But now the real test awaits. The Rojiblancos have had a poor record against their city rivals in crucial knockout matches and Simeone will be eager to break that hoodoo on Sunday.
However, with the core of this Real Madrid team still intact, Zidane’s men known how big matches are played and trophies are won. They always tend to up their game when they head onto a big clash mostly in knockout tournaments and therefore that keeps them slightly ahead of Atleti.
According to The Hard Tackle, it is going to be a very feisty encounter with tempers flaring from both ends in Jeddah, but a Real Madrid win is predicted leading to another trophy under Zidane.