Real are set to take on Atlético de Madrid in the first Madrid Derby of the 2017-2018 La Liga season. Los Blancos will be away at the brand new Wanda Metropolitano in the Spanish capital. Both teams are tied with each other in standings at 23 points, a gap of 8 points between Barcelona’s league-leading 31. This is a huge match for both clubs, not just because it’s a historic rivalry, but because it breaks the tie and allows one side to secure a lead over the other. Real currently sits in 3rd with Atlético in 4th, 4 points out from tying Valencia. While a win doesn’t get either club tied with Valencia even if they lose, it does put them towards gaining traction on Barcelona. This should be a great match between two longtime rivals, though this time in a brand new stadium setting.
Real still has some significant injuries to their squad that are or likely are out of Saturday’s Derby. Keylor Navas completed the first training session part this Friday morning along with Luka Modric. However, Navas is still doubtful to feature in this match as you don’t want to rush him back.
With Luka Modric sustaining a scare during the international break, he also returned to training after missing practice on Thursday. Modric is more likely to start against Atletico, though nothing is certain. If he isn’t able to start, it’s highly likely the nod will be given to Dani Ceballos, who just scored a hat trick for Spain’s U-21s in their match against Slovakia.
Gareth Bale of course is still out with his hamstring injury, where the situation has worsened earlier this week. Mateo Kovacic is also still out.
Some encouraging news, though, is Dani Carvajal returning to the starting squad. After missing significant action with a heart condition, he is finally returning to claim his spot at right-back. A much needed boost for Real as they are still missing some of their best players. Raphael Varane also returns after missing the match against Las Palmas.
On the opposing side, both Koke and Yannick Carrasco return to the lineup after missing significant time. Felipe Luis may also start after sustaining a hamstring injury and being doubtful for the Derby, he is on the submitted squad list.
Potential Starting XIs
With all the injuries in mind, we can predict the starting squads for both sides.
Casilla; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Isco, Ronaldo, Benzema
The lineup should remain relatively the same as it has with the exceptions of both Carvajal and Varane returning, who will start in place of Achraf Hakimi and Nacho. This is ideal for Real as they now have their best defensive choices back together again. If Modric does indeed miss the Derby, as mentioned before, Ceballos will most likely slot in his place after really impressing internationally. While you clearly want your best midfielder in a rivalry match, Zidane shouldn’t rush Modric back if he isn’t fully ready and Ceballos is a good replacement if needed. Casilla also stays in goal if Navas is still not 100% yet, though he is getting closer to a full return. Ronaldo and Benzema should both start up top again with Isco backing them up in the playmaker role. Real has yet to confirm their squad as this is being written.
If Modric is in, expect to see Ceballos, Asensio, and Vasquez all at some point during the match. Modric could come off the bench if he doesn’t start as planned.
Diego Simeone, on the other hand, has his full squad, which has been confirmed, available for the Derby at his disposal. Based on their submitted squad, their predicted lineup could like this:
Oblak; Juanfran, Godin, Giménez, Felipe Luis; Carrasco, Saul, Gabi, Koke; Correa, Griezmann
Expect Fernando Torres, Thomas, and Augusto to come off the bench as subs. Stefan Savić could as well.
With Atlético having all their significant players in their hands, it’s all the more important Real play their best match of the season. With the exception of Navas and Bale, the starting squad is near perfect if everyone is on their game. While Atletico has a strong squad, and a major boost with Koke, Carrasco, and Felipe Luis returning, they are still beatable as Real have been. They’ve struggled just as much as Real have and are looking to turn it around.
Atlético is coming off a 1-0 win over Deportivo while Real is coming off a 3-0 win over Las Palmas. With both teams coming off wins, they look to continue their runs with a win in a major rivalry. This will be the toughest opponent on paper Real has faced this season, excluding the Supercopa matches vs Barcelona. It’s time for Real to show what they’re made of and take away 3 points in a brand new environment. It won’t be easy, Atletico are undefeated at home this season so far; what better way to end a streak than in the first Madrid Derby of the season with both teams tied in points.
4-2 Real Madrid-Atlético Madrid
While he did against Las Palmas, I don’t expect to see Kiko Casilla pitch a clean sheet against Griezmann and company. While they’ve struggled scoring goals in La Liga, outside their 5 against Palmas in August, they still have a offensive threats in their squad and three of their best players back. This is a rivalry match, both for bragging rights and for a lead over the other in the standings. The Derby has seen many goals before, which is why this one should be no different. Real needs Ronaldo and their best to show up and get them the three points they need to stay competitive, draws are no longer welcomed.
HOW TO WATCH, STREAM LA LIGA
Time: 20:45 CET, 02:45pm EST, 11:45am Pacific.
Venue: Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain.
Available Streaming: BeIN Sports (USA), Fubo.TV (EVERY Real Madrid game with a high-quality and legal stream, click here to sign up and benefit from a summer discount for new members and Managing Madrid readers).