Atlético de Madrid have always been a tough opponent for Real Madrid since Diego Pablo Cholo Simeone took over. The brand of intensity he endorsed as a player passed on to his players, who now take these Madrid Derbies with a winning attitude and a lot of intensity.
This will only become even more obvious after Simeone announced during Tuesday's press conference that fan-favorite Fernando Torres will make his official return to Atlético de Madrid on Wednesday, starting the Derby. While Torres is not an elite player anymore, his understanding of Atleti as a club is perfect, and he will surely provide an explosive mix with the Calderón crowd.
Real Madrid will not be happy with Clos Gómez as the referee in charge. Gómez is arguably one of the worst referees in Spanish football, and Atlético always provide a tough challenge for the officials. If he fails to show his authority early on, this match could either be a yellow-card show or a dirty battle between both teams.
Keylor Navas will have his very first chance to make an impact on Real Madrid's squad after signing for Los Blancos this past summer. The Costa Rican started some matches now and then, but the opposition was not tough enough to tell how good his form was. This Wednesday though, Keylor Navas will need to claim some aerial crosses and probably make some important stops on one-on-one situations if Real Madrid are to be successful.
That's precisely Atlético de Madrid's biggest threat. Their aerial game and counterattacking style gave them the 2013-2014 Liga BBVA title, and Simeone did not want to mess around and adapt to a new gameplan given how triumphant the previous one was. Real Madrid will need to defend properly these two situations
As always, away goals can play a huge part in this tie. Considering that Atlético are always comfortable with a lead, it could be crucial to score at the Calderón. That way, Real Madrid would have a much easier task when these two teams play at the Santiago Bernabéu on Thursday, January 15th. That is why Ancelotti will probably not make many rotations. After all, as he said during Tuesday's press conference, the players just came back from the Christmas break. All available men should be fresh enough to face Atlético, and then Real's coach will be able to use the far-more-manageable home game against Espanyol to rotate his squad.
The Copa del Rey is not a big deal, but Ancelotti's mean will surely want to put on a convincing performance to forget Sunday's loss against Valencia. It's almost a matter of pride for a team that struggled way too much in Mestalla, putting the 22-game winning streak to an end. Winning at the Calderón would definitely make a stament.