El Derbi is finally here as Real Madrid travel to the Wanda Metropolitano to take on city rivals Atlético Madrid. This time around on Saturday, the stakes are higher than they have been in recent derby history. A single point separate the two Madrid clubs from the top spot in LaLiga, which Real currently holds.
Real have been great as of late in the league winning their last three matches. They’ve not only kept clean sheets in the last two, but there also haven’t been any shots on target against them in either fixture.
Atlético have won, drawn and lost their last three league matches, but sit at 13 points alongside Real Sociedad. Los Rojiblancos underwent many changes over the summer, losing the likes of Rodri, Godín, Griezmann and Lucas Hernandez. But, they’ve also added some new faces like Hector Herrera, Kieran Trippier, Marcos Llorente and 19-year-old Portuguese sensation Joao Felix.
These two clubs last met in the league back in February of last season, where Real took a 3-1 victory at the Wanda. Of course, there was also that preseason embarrassment where Real lost 7-3 in the U.S.
Needless to say, this is arguably the most important match for either club this season so far. Yes it is early in the season, but the battle for first in the LaLiga table is still entirely up for grabs, certainly more so than it has in several seasons.
Alongside the standings, the meaning of this rivalry has only added to the stakes at-hand for both Madrid sides.
Real Madrid still have some injuries on their front, but the recovery process has been getting better. Marcelo, Isco, and Modric should all be available in Saturday’s derby. They will still be without Ferland Mendy and Marco Asensio though.
Atlético are without Sime Vrsaljko.
As for suspensions, former Madrid striker Alvaro Morata will be missing from Atléti’s squad after he head-butted Mallorca’s Salva Sevilla on Wednesday.
Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Casemiro, Kroos; James, Bale, Hazard, Benzema
Zidane rested much of the squad in Wednesday’s win against Osasuna. So, it should be no surprise that he will likely start a similar side to what was seen against Sevilla last weekend.
Marcelo will likely be slotted back into the left back position after missing several matches due to injury.
Modric and Isco will likely not be rushed back to start but both may be on the bench and available as substitutes.
Oblak; Trippier, Felipe, Giménez, Lodi; Koke, Herrera, Saúl, Lemar; Felix, Costa
Atlético Madrid—Real Madrid 2-3
As is common with El Derbi, this could be a tight, close match that could very well end up in a draw. Recent LaLiga history has been against Atléti as they have only won one of their last 18 home derbies against Real Madrid.
Real have looked quite good their last several LaLiga matches, especially since they’ve been able to keep shots off-target and away from the back of the net. Make no mistake, this is the toughest league opponent Real have faced so far and they need to be in their best form.
Aside from the PSG defeat and domination, Real have been solid so far this season and have earned the right to be top of the league table. There’s bound to be at least some heartbreak if/when Marcos Llorente sees the pitch against his old club.
This time around, the battle is not just for the bragging rights. On Saturday, it is for who will finish the weekend ahead of the other in the standings and who will forward of their campaigns for the league title.
This is El Derbi.