The first Madrid Derby of the season is upon us as Real Madrid hosts city rival Atletico Madrid at the Di Stefano on Saturday.
These two clubs find themselves within the top four of the league table currently. Real is still fourth trailing the first spot by a six-point margin.
Atletico currently sit atop La Liga with a one point lead over Real Sociedad. The club has won its last seven league matches and have yet to lose a match so far.
Real has done well against Atletico at home in league fixtures. The club hasn’t lost as host since 2016. Atleti has also not been able to beat Real in the last eight matches played between the two sides. Most of these derby matches have finished as a draw.
This is a true top-four battle and the hardest opponent Real will have faced so far in La Liga. Real has not been in great league form, but the team was able to get a win against Sevilla to get back on track last weekend.
Fede Valverde has returned to the squad after recovering from injury. Eden Hazard, Martin Ødegaard, Luka Jovic and Mariano all remain out.
Atletico will be without defenders Manu Sanchez and Jose Gimenez. Diego Costa will also miss the match.
There are no suspensions for either club in the season’s first edition of El Derbi Madrileño.
Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Mendy; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Rodrygo, Vinicius, Benzema
Dani Carvajal returned to the squad earlier in the week for the Gladbach match. Lucas Vazquez started in his spot, but Carvajal should likely be fit to start against Atleti.
Even with Valverde back in the squad it is unlikely he will get a start here returning right from injury.
With Hazard out Vinicius is the likely starter on the left side. Rodrygo could be given the start on the opposite wing competing with Marco Asensio and Vazquez.
Oblak; Savic, Felipe, Hermoso; Trippier, Llorente, Koke, Saul, Carrasco; Felix, Saurez
Real Madrid—Atletico Madrid 1-1
This is a big match for both clubs aside from the spectacle and history of the Madrid Derby itself. Real cannot afford to keep dropping points especially since a loss would put the team nine points behind Atletico.
Atletico also want to distance themselves from some of the pack. Los Rojiblancos are only a point ahead of Sociedad who face Eibar over the weekend.
Having Ramos back against Gladbach showed how important the captain is to this team. The club plays much better and with more confidence and stability when he is starting at the back. Potentially having Carvajal start as well also helps the defense immensely.
Atletico is a dangerous team this season and has the potential to go the distance in La Liga. Luis Suarez and Joao Felix are both tied for fourth in league goals with five apiece. The club is second in goals this season and has conceded just twice in the matches played so far.
Recently these derbies have ended in a draw, so that certainly could play out again on Saturday. Real have fared well against Atletico at home as of recent as well.
This will be an interesting match for both sides and will surely be highly stressful for both fanbases. We’ll see who comes out on the other side of this one and what the top four of the league table looks like after this weekend.