Both teams have changed. Atlético de Madrid lost Thibaut Courtois, Filipe Luis and Diego Costa this summer, so it's really hard to say that they improved. Still, they made some smart moves and decided to sign Jan Oblak, Guilherme Siqueira and Mario Mandzukic to replace those three players. Plus, Atlético added Antoine Griezmann, who was rumored to be under Real Madrid's radar weeks before the 2014 FIFA World Cup started.
On the other side of the Manzanares river, Real Madrid signed James Rodríguez, Toni Kroos and Keylor Navas, only losing Álvaro Morata and Diego López in the process. While it's true that Ángel Di María and Sami Khedira might be on their way out of the Spanish capital, Carlo Ancelotti included them on the team's list to play this first derby, so there's no point in speculating over their departures just yet.
Both side's pre-season has been quiet and calm. Atlético de Madrid managed to get wins while Real Madrid struggled, but Ancelotti's team clearly faced better squads. It should also be noted that the performance and level displayed by los blancos on the UEFA Supercup against Sevilla was nothing short of excellent. Toni Kroos has changed this team and now the reigning European champions look even more solid and possession-oriented than they ever were during the 2013-2014 season. It will be tough for Atlético de Madrid to take the ball away from Ancelotti's men, but that's a fairly comfortable scenario for Simeone. Atlético will likely sit deep and wait for the counterattack. Dani Carvajal looked vulnerable against Sevilla's left wing, and Simeone might want to exploit that.
Xabi Alonso will likely be back on the starting lineup after missing the UEFA Supercup. If so, Real Madrid would play with a 4-3-3 formation that would have Alonso, Modric and Kroos in the midfield. That would leave new signing James Rodríguez on the bench, waiting for a chance to replace either Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale or Karim Benzema. Alonso's presence in the lineup would improve Real Madrid's defensive presence off the ball, and the Spanish midfielder would also help Coentrao and Carvajal down the flanks. If needed, Isco or James could come in during the second half to shake things up and create some goal-scoring chances.
It will be a late kick-off. The Spanish Football Federation allowed the match to start at 11 p.m local time (CET), so the game will finish after midnight on a working day. That should not stop the Real Madrid fans from going to the Santiago Bernabéu and enjoy Real Madrid's first home game of the season, so expect a sell-out crowd in Madrid.
Projected lineup for Real Madrid: Casillas, Carvajal, Pepe, Ramos, Coentrao, Alonso, Kroos, Modric, Bale, Ronaldo, Benzema.
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Prediction: 2-0 for Real Madrid.