The footballing world will brace itself for yet another Madrid derby when Real Madrid play hosts to their cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid tomorrow.

Real Madrid have enjoyed a solid start to the calendar year of 2020, winning all of their matches in all competitions. As a result, they are leading La Liga with a three-point advantage over arch-rivals Barcelona, heading into this weekend’s round of fixtures.

Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have already met once this year in the Supercopa de Espana final. The two clubs drew level even with the referee adding 30 minutes of extra time before Los Blancos emerged as 4-1 victors in the penalty shootout.

They could expect similar resistance on Saturday as Atletico Madrid look to return to winning ways. Unlike their cross-town rivals, Atleti have had a disastrous start to 2020, notably winning just one of their last three matches. They are coming on the back of a 0-0 draw with Leganes last weekend.

Therefore, securing all three points will be on the agenda for Diego Simeone’s team, who could potentially slip to seventh should both Real Sociedad and Valencia register a victory in their respective games this weekend.

And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two footballing giants ahead of their much-awaited Madrid derby on Saturday.

Tactics & Team News

Real Madrid

Real Madrid issued an update over the fitness of Eden Hazard this week. The Belgian has trained with the team but has been left out of the 19 man squad, along with Gareth Bale, giving Isco the advantage. The Spaniard is tipped to start ahead of Vinicius Junior at left wing. Rodrygo, meanwhile, seems like a destined starter on the opposite flank.

LEGANES, SPAIN - APRIL 15: Isco Alarcon of Real Madrid looks on during the La Liga match between CD Leganes and Real Madrid CF at Estadio Municipal de Butarque on April 15, 2019 in Leganes, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

Can Isco cover for the absence of Bale and Hazard? (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

Karim Benzema and Casemiro are also expected to return to the starting lineup after being rested in the game against Real Zaragoza in Copa Del Rey, though the former did feature as a substitute.

Casemiro is likely to partner Toni Kroos and Luka Modric, who could come in at the expense of James Rodriguez, at the base of Real Madrid’s 4-3-3.

And finally, in defence, Zidane will have to make some key decisions. Dani Carvajal is in contention to start and the experienced Spaniard is a guaranteed starter at right-back. However, there could be a selection dilemma on the opposite flank, with both Marcelo and Ferland Mendy available.

We expect Zidane to opt for Marcelo, due to his experience. The Brazilian is set to be partnered by Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane in central defence while Thibaut Courtois will return in goal.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Courtois; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Rodrygo, Benzema, Isco

Atletico Madrid

Simeone has been boosted by the recent addition of Yannick Ferreira Carrasco, who has returned on loan in the January window. However, it’s unlikely that the Belgian will feature against Real Madrid, a place on the bench could be on the cards.

Joao Felix hasn’t been able to deliver the goods, of late. He has been also ruled with a fresh injury. As a result, we expect him to be replaced by Koke at left wing, though Vitolo is also an option for Simeone. The attack will be led by Alvaro Morata, with Angel Correa starting on the right flank.

MADRID, SPAIN - AUGUST 18: Joao Felix of Atletico Madrid warms up prior to the Liga match between Club Atletico de Madrid and Getafe CF at Wanda Metropolitano on August 18, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

Felix has been ruled out against Real Madrid. (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

In midfield, Thomas Partey will sit at the base of Atleti’s 4-3-3. His presence in the holding midfield role could be key as the visitors look to prevent the Real Madrid midfielders from dictating the tempo of the game. Fortunately, Parney will have excellent support in midfield, in the form of Hector Herrerra and Saul Niguez.

Minimal changes are expected in defence. Sime Vrsaljko, in particular, is the only defender likely to lose his place in the starting lineup, paving way for Kieran Trippier to return at right-back, though the English international will be assessed ahead of the game.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Oblak; Trippier, Savic, Felipe, Lodi; Herrera, Partey, Niguez; Correa, Morata, Koke

Key Stats

  1. Real Madrid are unbeaten in their last seven derbies against Atletico Madrid in La Liga, drawing five of the last six, with four of them under Zidane.
  2. Atletico Madrid are unbeaten in their last six visits to Santiago Bernabeu in La Liga, their longest unbeaten streak away from home against Real Madrid in the competition’s history.
  3. Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have face each other twice this season, drawing both. It’s the first time in this derby history they have played out consecutive 0-0 draws in all competitions.
  4. Since their defeat against Mallorca in October 19, Real Madrid are unbeaten in La Liga, keeping a clean sheet in eight of those 12 matches.
  5. Atletico Madrid have won just one of their last seven away La Liga games, 2-1 against Real Betis in December 2019 but they’ve drawn five of those matches.

Player to Watch

Karim Benzema

Real Madrid's saviour once again. (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

Can Benzema become Real Madrid’s saviour once again? (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

Real Madrid’s fate in this fixture could broadly depend on the performance of Benzema. The Frenchman has emerged as one of the best performers in La Liga this season, having netted 12 goals in 20 matches in the league. His ability to link up with teammates and score goals will be essential against a rigid Atletico side.

Therefore, Simeone’s men must keep a close eye on Benzema this weekend. We even expect the visitors to cut off any supplies for the centre-forward and isolate him in a deeper position. However, his ability to track back could provide problems for Los Rojiblancos.

Prediction

Real Madrid 1-1 Atletico Madrid

With the way both sides have defended in recent months, it won’t be surprising to see this game turning into a cat and mouse chase, with both sides struggling to find clear cut opportunities. Hence, we expect a 1-1 draw at the Santiago Bernabeu this weekend.

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