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Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid Preview

Real Madrid & Atletico Madrid clash in a mouth-watering derby which will prove crucial in the title race.
Real Madrid & Atletico Madrid clash in a mouth-watering derby which will prove crucial in the title race.
Spanish La Liga | Saturday 8 April | Santiago Bernabeu | 16:15

With less than 10 rounds left to play in the Spanish La Liga, Real Madrid will look to knock out their city-rivals, Atletico Madrid, out the title race for good when the two sides meet at the Santiago Bernabeu this weekend. In the last three league meetings at Real Madrid’s grounds, Atletico have picked up maximum points. It’s the cup competitions where Los Blancos have had the upper hand over their rivals. At the time of writing, both sides have been in terrific form, winning four La Liga matches on the trot. Real won the reverse tie 3-0 courtesy of a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick. So it means two things: either it’s payback time for Atletico, or Real Madrid to pile more misery and dampen their city-rivals’ title hopes.

To Win (90mins)
Real Madrid 7/10
Draw 26/10
Atletico Madrid 37/10

Real Madrid

Real Madrid have a massive double-header looming with Los Blancos taking on Atletico Madrid and then facing Bayern Munich four days later in the UEFA Champions League. Before that, Madrid face Leganes in a fixture they really should win.

Zinedine Zidane’s men are on top of the log by two points with a game in hand over the chasing pack. Madrid come off a resounding 3-0 victory over Alaves last weekend, keeping a clean sheet without club-captain Sergio Ramos and Marcelo a part of their back-four after being rested.

Goals from Karim Benzema, Isco and Nacho Fernandez meant that Real Madrid became the first La Liga team to score in 50 consecutive games across all competitions. Madrid are in a fairly comfortable position knowing that Barcelona take on Sevilla in midweek.

Real Madrid are the only team yet to suffer defeat on their home grounds this season. In 15 matches, Los Blancos have come out the happier of the two sides on 12 occasions, drawing three times.

Madrid, who have been heavily linked with Chelsea superstar, Eden Hazard, still have a world-class front three which have been superb this campaign. Cristiano Ronaldo only has 19 goals to his name this season, but has contributed to the team in many other ways, recording six assists. Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema have also been brilliant with seven and nine goals respectively.

Madrid have goalscorers all over the pitch, and even off it, with Alvaro Morata (who has been linked with a move away from the club) finding the back of the net eight times this season.

Real Madrid have been ruthless in attack and also defence. Los Blancos are firm favourites for the title, and will be hoping to turn over their wretched home form against Atletico Madrid.

Atletico Madrid

Atletico’s superb record at the Bernabeu will be put to the test this weekend as they look to catch up on the league-leaders.

Atletico Madrid, like their rivals, play this match knowing that they have an UEFA Champions League match to attend to four days later. Atletico overtook Sevilla last weekend to move up to third in La Liga, and with Barcelona taking on the Sevillistas in midweek, at least one team has to drop points.

Atletico are on a great run of form, winning four consecutive La Liga matches. Away from the Calderon, Diego Simeone’s side have also been brilliant, going seven games now without tasting defeat.

It’s fair to say that Atletico didn’t start the campaign the way they had wanted to, but the way the Los Rojiblancos have picked up their season, Simeone can be a proud man. Shot-stopper, Jan Oblak, set an astonishing record last weekend to keep his 58th clean sheet in 100 games in Atletico colours – bettering both Thibaut Courtois and David de Gea’s statistics.

Atletico share the record of the league’s best defence, at the time of writing, conceding just 23 goals all season. Finding the back of the net hasn’t been difficult either. Antoine Griezmann leads the scoring charts for the Colchoneros with 14 league goals.

Griezmann has attracted interests from Europe’s biggest clubs, and it’s easy to tell why. The French maestro has the capabilities to lead the line in any attack, but can also drift to either flank and perhaps even drop deep into midfield as well, making it even more difficult to mark him.

Whether he’s alongside Kevin Gameiro or Fernando Torres, Atletico boast a frightening attack. Atleti have a top midfield trio including Saul Niguez, Gabi and Koke. The Spaniards are tight in defence and provide decent cover over the back-line, but can be equally brilliant when it’s time to go forward.

This will be Atletico’s last throw of the dice if they are to still have a chance of claiming the La Liga title.

Probable line-ups:

Real Madrid: 4-3-3
Navas; Carvajal, Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo; Casemiro, Kroos, Modric; Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo.

Atletico Madrid: 4-4-2
Oblak; Juanfran, Godin, Savic, Luis; Saul, Koke, Gabi, Carrasco; Griezmann, Torres.

Prediction: 1-1 Draw (6/1)
It’s a pity that this clash has come just before the Quarter-Finals of the UEFA Champions League. Both teams will still be going all out for the win, but I can’t see a winner here. The Bernabeu has been a ground of joy for Atletico in recent years, and while I don’t see Real losing this one either, I’m leaning towards a draw. That said, both front-lines are almost impossible to stop. At 6/1, the 1-1 Draw looks a great bet.

Written by Jesse Nagel.