The Atlético de Madrid yet a derby of the largest possible dimension thanks to his football growth this year, with the possibility of changing his role from aspiring to favorite if he defeats a Real Madrid reborn when he felt the abyss closely, forced to score if he did not want to follow in the footsteps of Barcelona and feel the distance acquired by the leader unbridgeable.
The first major derby hosted by the Alfredo di Stéfano stadium presents all the incentives except the lack of fans. A Real Madrid-Atlético of greatness, a duel taken to its maximum expression in the two recent Champions League finals. The memory of success and the existence of a continuous red-and-white revenge in a sweet moment. The step forward taken by Diego Simeone, who was so demanded of him, when he has the wickers to do it. An indisputable leadership that measures its reliability against which a great rival for the league crown is emerging.
EThe current champion must recover the identity exhibited after confinement if you want to have options to revalidate title. Without defensive security or adequate concentration, he collapsed against opponents considered minor as Cádiz and Alavés at Di Stéfano. Defeats, such as Shakhtar’s in the Champions League, which left their mark and put Zinedine Zidane in an extreme situation. Unknown so far. The triumph in Seville and the confirmation against Borussia Mönchengladbach changes the pace.
Despite his irregularity, he had the opportunity to take a turn and avoid the loss of prestige of an unprecedented European collapse, finishing the leader of his group in the pass to the second round of the Champions League. In the league, that turning point comes to Real Madrid in the derby. With six points away and one game less played by Atlético. Seeing twelve in the worst possible scenario would practically seal a firing from the fight before Christmas.
Hence to hold the footballing strength displayed against Gladbach is transcendental for Zidane, with an intact figure to criticism and who comes out of any bad moment. He does it in the present by reducing his trusted footballers. In the absence of recovering Eden Hazard and Martin Odegaard, he shows with acts that the rotations he was betting on do not fit in the current squad. In Seville only one change; against Gladbach giving way to a youth squad like Arribas before putting Isco in the game.
The good level shown invites us to touch little what works. Despite the fatigue. Zidane must decide whether to alienate Dani Carvajal and Fede Valverde from the beginning. The physical exhibition offered by Lucas Vázquez and the quality of Luka Modric, do not invite modifications. Rodrygo shone at a good level and only Vinicius would be in danger if the French coach gives way to Marco Asensio. Forwards Mariano Díaz and Luka Jovic complete the absences on the Madrid side.
The six points out of twelve possible local signed by Real Madrid, are a key point to correct if you want to end up fighting for the title. Just six goals in four games in his stadium reflect the lack of punch of a team that needs the imposing Karim Benzema that was seen in the Champions League. At Atlético he only scored five goals in 34 derbies. Of course, the last one decided.
Atlético burst into the derby in an imposing moment. There are no nuances in his expressive and productive start to the League. He has only lost four of the thirty points in the competition, leads the classification with one rental point and two games less than Real Sociedad, second, and has been unbeatable in the championship. Real Madrid is 6 points away; Barcelona, 12; Sevilla, at 10.
Nobody has been able to with him in the League -Nothing more Bayern in the Champions League-; only two teams, Granada and Osasuna, with one goal each, have scored somewhat Jan Oblak, unbeaten in the remaining eight games; and now he links seven consecutive victories that he did not accumulate in succession since he was champion in 2013-14.
At their spectacular start to the tournament at that time, they recall the current numbers of the rojiblanco team, which also chained 26 undefeated days, precisely since the last time they visited Real Madrid, on February 1, when they fell 1-0 at the Santiago Bernabéu . It is his last defeat in this competition.
Since then, its evolution is constant and undeniable, but even more so in this course, when to everything that it already had before since the origin of the Simeone era, which made it reach very high levels, it has added innovation, a more offensive perspective and a diversity in its staff that reaffirm it as an insistent contender for the League, before another litmus test. He already surpassed it against Barcelona.
All of this comes together in unstoppable ambition with which he is presented at the Alfredo Di Stéfano stadium, away today, on paper, from the conformity that almost always accompanied him in every derby of the Simeone era, aware that his current level does not admit either middle terms or concessions before a rival the size of Madrid.
With the pressure from Salzburg overcome on Wednesday with a move to the knockout stages of the Champions League, Atlético want more. And he will look for it predictably within the 3-5-2 that he has consolidated in recent times and with nothing more than tweaks, if any, in the starting lineup that, game by game, gains more continuity.
It provides, for example, to Luis Suárez and Joao Félix, their two best scorers, with five goals between the two in this League; Marcos Llorente, transformed into an overflowing attacker but also a born worker; to Koke Resurrection; defenders Stefan Savic, Felipe Monteiro and Mario Hermoso, once José María Giménez misses his third match followed by a muscle injury; Kieran Trippier and Jan Oblak in goal.
The doubts focus on two positions: Yannick Carrasco or Ángel Correa for one of the bands, depending on the scheme, and Saúl Ñíguez or Héctor Herrera for the middle center. Besides Giménez, Diego Costa is also not available, outside his sixth game followed by a thrombosis in his leg.
Real Madrid: Courtois; Lucas Vázquez o Carvajal, Varane, Sergio Ramos, Mendy; Casemiro, Kroos, Modric; Rodrygo, Vinicius, Benzema.
Atlético de Madrid: Oblak; Trippier, Savic, Felipe, Hermoso, Carrasco; Llorente, Herrera or Saúl, Koke; Joao Félix, Luis Suárez.
Referee: Mateu Lahoz (C. Valenciano).
Stadium: Alfredo Di Stéfano.
Time: 21.00 CET (20.00 GMT).
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