Atletico Madrid vs. Real Madrid, the biggest game in the Spanish capital, is upon us. The two fierce city rivals had contrasting starts to their season. But form hardly ever matters in these games. Here are four things that we may want to be attentive to:
Eder Militao, Antonio Rudiger, or both?
Forced or unforced, Carlo Ancelotti’s rotations have been spot on during the eight consecutive wins to start this season. But Carlo possibly faces a huge dilemma ahead of the derby. Militao’s injury meant Rudiger got to start in the last couple of games. Militao has resumed training. Now does Ancelotti keep faith in his trusted pair of Militao and Alaba with Mendy as the starting left-back? Or does he start both Rudiger and Militao with Alaba as the left back? The chances of the latter happening are probably scarce as Mendy was purposefully rested vs RB Leipzig. Nevertheless, it is bound to be an interesting decision.
Simeone vs. Ancelotti - Episode 18
Diego Simeone has faced Carlo Ancelotti 17 times as a manager before the derby this weekend. The Argentine has gotten better than the Italian on seven occasions. Ancelotti has six wins in his favor and the other four games were drawn. Ancelotti has of course won the biggest game of this lot: the 2014 UEFA Champions League final in Lisbon. But there have been a few humiliating defeats as well, such as the 4-0 defeat in 2014-15.
Ancelotti has mostly thrived vs. Simeone in cup competitions. But the scenario in LaLiga is rather discouraging for the reigning champions of Europe. Real Madrid would like to change that in the next game, no doubt.
Return of the Castilla graduates
Sergio Reguilon, a Castilla graduate and a beloved character to the Real Madrid faithful during the merciless 2018-19 season, could have faced his boyhood club wearing the colours of Atletico but injuries are preventing the reunion. Reguilon is practically ruled out of the game with Atletico sweating on a few other key injury issues at the same time. Two other former Real Madrid players, Marcos Llorente and Alvaro Morata, are however expected to feature in this important game.
Real Madrid’s talisman in the absence of captain Karim Benzema will once again lead the attack for Los Blancos. Vinicius has come under completely unjustified criticism from broadcasters and rivals during the last few weeks due to his harmless celebrations during a hot streak of five games. Atletico Madrid captain Koke warned that things could get messy if Vinicius tried similar things at the Wanda Metropolitano. Carlo Ancelotti has assured, that Real Madrid and Vinicius Jr do not pay heed to such farcical criticism. The scenario puts Vinicius under the spotlight and makes the derby spicier than it already was.