Real Madrid are scheduled to host cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid in one of La Liga’s most-anticipated games of the season on Saturday.
The hosts are presently fourth in the standings with 20 points, six behind Atletico Madrid, who are the league leaders with a game in hand.
Zinedine Zidane’s side started the season on a bright note, but they have lost their way over the past month with just one win from four games.
On the contrary, Diego Simeone’s men have barely put a foot wrong in the league and they are currently on a stunning seven-match winning streak.
Both teams go into Saturday’s late kick-off on the back of Champions League wins which ensured their progress to the round of 16.
Los Blancos beat Borussia Monchengladbach 2-0 at the Alfredo di Stefano Stadium to seal qualification and avoid a shock group stage defeat.
Atletico, on the other hand, qualified with a 2-0 triumph at Red Bull Salzburg. The hosts squandered multiple scoring chances during the game.
Atletico’s recent record against Real Madrid has been poor and they have failed to beat their arch-rivals in any of the previous eight league games (three defeats and five draws). Hence, they have not been victorious in the derby since February 2016.
Despite this, Los Blancos have not recently shone against Atletico when it comes to the home matches. In the previous seven league meetings in their stadium, they have been on the winning side on just one occasion while they have been three draws and three defeats.
Zidane’s side are normally dominant on their home patch, but the trend has changed this term. Earlier this season, they were unbeaten in 20 home league games, but have since suffered two defeats from three matches. They were also stunned by Shakhtar Donetsk (3-2 loss) in Europe.
Real Madrid won’t be able to utilise the services of Eden Hazard and Luka Jovic, who are out with groin and adductor injuries respectively. Elsewhere, Martin Odegaard is doubtful after suffering a muscular problem of his own. It is uncertain whether Federico Valverde (shin) or Mariano (undefined) will recover in time for the derby.
Atletico, on the other hand, are expected to be without three players. Manu Sanchez (muscle) and Jose Gimenez (thigh) won’t play any part alongside Diego Costa, who is suffering from deep vein thrombosis in his leg after his recent recovery from the coronavirus.
Real Madrid (4-3-3): Thibaut Courtois; Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos, Ferland Mendy; Luka Modric, Casemiro, Toni Kroos; Marco Asensio, Karim Benzema, Vinicius Junior
Atletico Madrid (3-5-2): Jan Oblak; Stefan Savic, Felipe, Mario Hermoso;, Kieran Trippier, Marcos Llorente, Koke, Saul, Yannick Carrasco; Luis Suarez, Joao Felix
Real Madrid looked much better defensively with the return of Sergio Ramos after his hamstring problem and they have also been boosted by the injury comeback of Dani Carvajal.
Still, they are missing the services of Eden Hazard in the attack which is a huge blow. Atletico are currently in a rich vein of form and their defensive record has been truly exceptional with just two goals conceded in 10 games.
They have been tough to beat under Simeone over the years and they are now a much more organised unit, who can be regarded as genuine contenders for the title after six seasons.
Atletico ended a 20-match winless league streak against Barcelona last month and we are backing them to end their nine-match wait for a La Liga win over Los Blancos on Saturday night.
Real Madrid 0-1 Atletico Madrid
Stats from Transfermarkt.com and UEFA.com