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Five keys to an Atletico Madrid victory

We sit down with our rivals to discuss strengths and weaknesses.

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

A quick note: if you don't know already, SB Nation has recently launched an Atletico Madrid blog, Into the Calderon, run by good guy Robbie Dunne and his band of merry staffers. If you haven't checked it out, you definitely should as they're putting out some great content over there and we'd love to help out a fellow blog's audience grow.

Speaking of which, we reached out to Robbie to get his thoughts on what five keys are vital to Atletico Madrid coming out on top in this weekend's derby. As always, you can find Real Madrid's five keys to victory at Into the Calderon.


1. Getting Jackson on the ball in the right areas

As I wrote in my article, 'Simeone and Martinez need time to adjust to each other' Martinez has been getting possession in the wrong areas of the field and this has to change in order to be effective for Atletico Madrid. They key to the Colombian striker coming good for Atletico is possibly touching the ball less but in more dangerous areas i.e inside the 10 yard line. It might mean that Martinez doesn't do as much defensively either but Atletico need to get him firing to add another dimension to their attack.

2. Koke getting back to his best and creating chances

Koke has been missing since he sustained a hamstring injury against Eibar two weeks ago. While you have Griezmann, Juanfran, and possibly Angel Correa should he start , there to create, Koke is really the man who dictates what way Atletico attack. He is in charge of all the set-pieces and could be the key in Atletico becoming a force again in that department. A single set-piece goal could be the difference between the two Madrid sides on Sunday and Koke must play and star if Atletico are to create chances and win on Sunday.

3. Simeone finding a balance between defending deep and getting the victory

This point somewhat ties into the return of Koke. If Simone can find a way to balance the creativity in his midfield with the defensive sinew that holds the team together, they can really get at Real Madrid. While Martinez should start firing soon, he does not fashion chances for himself and Atletico will need that creativity from slightly deeper if they are to challenge their Madrid rivals. This will open up Griezmann and Correa to work between the lines as Real are forced to push out and close down Atletico's midfield.

4. Exploiting Marcelo's attacking-minded approach without allowing him to influence the game in our half

Juanfran remains one of the best crossers of the ball in the league. He tends to be able to send in crosses that tempt the keeper to come out without being too close to him and with enough velocity to deceive defenders into hesitating before deciding whether to stay or go. If Marcelo continues to attack without regard, and there are no signs that he would halt this aspect of his game, then Atletico need to torture Real's back four. Make the central defender come out and meet Juanfran and create space for Oliver Torres, Antoine Griezmann and Jackson Martinez in more central positions. This will stretch Real and force Marcelo to rethink his careless, and so often productive, attacking from the left-back position.

5. Getting his team selection correct and making the correct subs at the correct times

Simeone has had to make four attacking half-time substitutions in Atletico's last three games. This points towards a few things. You could argue that Simeone got his team selection wrong, you could also say that he hasn't given his players enough time to get into the game or you could say that his attacking players just haven't performed as they are expected to. He will have to pick his team correctly and give them the chance to play their way into the game because a second half substitute might be entering the field too late against a Real Madrid side who will be keen to end their poor form against their rivals.

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