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Copa del Rey, Atlético de Madrid vs Real Madrid: Match preview

Real Madrid seeks to come back from a first-leg defeat and overcome Atlético de Madrid in Thursday's Madrid derby.

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

After celebrating Cristiano Ronaldo's third Ballon D'Or victory, Real Madrid fans must now watch in anticipation as their team try to overcome a two-goal deficit and defeat Atlético de Madrid at the Bernabéu. Real Madrid's quest for the Copa del Rey remains alive, though the path to victory is certainly more arduous given Madrid's uninspired defeat to Simeone's side last week.

Carlo Ancelotti knows it will be challenging to unlock Atléti's ziploc-sealed defense, so the creative combination offered by the likes of Isco, Marcelo, Kroos and James will be critical to playing through-balls for the forwards. Real Madrid needs to score, so expect a combination of the 20 players called up by Ancelotti to play proactive possession football that mixes the vision and pause of players like Kroos and Isco with the explosive runs of Bale, Benzema and CR7 into space.

On defense, Real will once again need to guard against corner kicks and free kicks given Atléti's formidable aerial play. The Whites will also need to keep their composure against a side that loves to break up their flow with tactical fouls and provocations (looking at you, Raúl García). With a two-goal lead, Atléti will be more than happy to sit back in their half and block Real's entry into their area in the hopes of launching a quick counter, so it's Ancelotti's responsibility to ensure his players stay patient and avoid getting frustrated against what is a very frustrating team to play.

In a recurring motivational ploy, Diego Simeone refuses to acknowledge his side as the favorite despite its clear goal advantage. Simeone also made mention that the Bernabéu will be packed with Real Madrid supporters due to a drop in ticket prices, and this should make for an exciting and adrenaline-filled atmosphere. The colchonero boss has not decided whether Torres or Mandzukic will start at striker tomorrow, and even though Mandzukic missed today's training with a fever, AS predicts the Croatian star will begin the match ahead of El Niño. Simeone will also have to decide whether he sticks with the reserves that served him well last week, like Jose Maria Gimenez, Lucas Hernandez, Saul and Jan Oblak, or whether he comes out gunning with the likes of Miranda, Koke, Arda and Miguel Angel Moya in goal.

Regardless of who starts for Atléti, the fact of the matter is that this derby won't be easy, and Real Madrid have a tall task ahead of them. However, what we do know about this Real Madrid side thanks to that magical moment in "minute 93" is that a remontada is not only possible, it's expected.

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