The two fierce rivals meet in a vital derby clash that could be pivotal in the race for the Liga title
Atletico Madrid play host to neighbours Real Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday, with the outcome of the match liable to be pivotal in the chase of Primera Division leaders Barcelona.
The Catalans lie six points clear of second-placed Atleti and a further two clear of Los Blancos, so in the event of any dropped points, the teams are likely to have an even greater margin to close.
Complicating matters further for Real, who go into the game off the back of a 1-1 Copa del Rey draw at Camp Nou, is the small matter of a Champions League meeting with Ajax on Wednesday.
Can Santiago Solari juggle his side successfully to keep up the pressure at the top of La Liga while keeping them fresh for the big midweek match?
|Game||Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid|
|Date||Saturday, February 8|
|Time||3:15pm GMT / 10:15am ET|
|Stream (US only)||fubo TV (7-day free trial)|
In the United States (US), the game can be watched live and on-demand with fuboTV (7-day free trial) .
New users can sign up for a free seven-day trial of the live sports streaming service, which can be accessed via iOS, Android, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV as well as on a web browser.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
|beIN Sports / beIN Sports en Espanol||fubo TV (7-day free trial)|
In the United Kingdom (UK), the game will be streamed on Eleven Sports 1.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
|N/A||Eleven Sports 1|
|Position||Atletico Madrid squad|
|Defenders||Lucas, Gimenez, Godin, Perez, Montero, Filipe Luis, Arias, Juanfran|
|Midfielders||Rodri, Thomas, Niguez, Koko|
|Forwards||Lemar, Vitolo, Correa, Griezmann, Morata, Kalinic, Garces|
Diego Godin’s return to training for Atletico Madrid is a major boost before the derby. The centre-back is not certain to play, but he stands a good chance.
Saul Niguez and Koke are also fitness concerns, with the former likelier to be involved in the midfield.
Meanwhile, the bullish Diego Costa and centre-back Stefan Savic are both ruled out.
Alvaro Morata starts against his former club.
Confirmed Atletico Madrid starting XI: Oblak, Arias, Gimenez, Godin, Hernandez, Sail, Thomas, Correa, Lemar, Morata, Griezmann.
|Position||Real Madrid squad|
|Goalkeepers||Navas, Casilla, Courtois|
|Defenders||Carvajal, Vallejo, Ramos, Nacho, Varane, Marcelo, Odriozoloa, Reguilon|
|Midfielders||Kroos, Modric, Casemiro, Valverde, Vazquez, Llorente, Asensio, Isco, Ceballos, B. Diaz|
|Forwards||Marcelo, Benzema, Bale, Vinicius Junior|
Once again, Santi Solari is set to have a strong squad to call upon. Luca Zidane is still missing while Marcos Llorente is set to watch from the stands after picking up a problem in the Clasico.
Gareth Bale is dropped to the bench due to the form of Lucas Vazquez and Vinicius Junior, while Isco is likely to have to settle for a place on the bench too.
Confirmed Real Madrid starting XI: Courtois, Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Reguilon, Kroos, Modric, Casemiro, Lucas, Vinicius Jr, Benzema.
Atletico Madrid are priced as 11/8 favourites by bet365, with Real Madrid 21/10 underdogs. A draw, meanwhile, is available at 9/4.
Click here to see more offers for the game, including goalscoring markets, correct score predictions and more.
Real Madrid were plunged into a season-defining period on Wednesday when they picked up a 1-1 draw against Barcelona at Camp Nou, and while it might not quite have been the perfect result they were hoping for in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final, it was a performance that can act as a building block to better things.
Interim head coach Santi Solari was certainly content with what he saw from his side, who had taken the lead through Lucas Vazquez after fine build-up play from Vinicius Junior and an apparently resurgent Karim Benzema.
“We always want to win games and we had chances to score a second but we’re happy with what we’ve done today,” he said after the match.
Solari knows, however, that was only one step and it will be for nought if Barca win the second leg at the Bernabeu, or if Madrid cannot kick on when they meet their neighbours on Saturday.
Atleti remain as stoic a force as they have ever been under the shrewd guidance of Diego Simeone. They may have been surprisingly eliminated from the cup by Girona at the round-of-16 stage, but they are well established in second place and had been poised to seriously threaten Barca before slipping to a 1-0 defeat against Real Betis last weekend – just their second of the season.
Their trademark defensive wall has been breached only 14 times in the league this term, unsurprisingly the best tally of any team, and though they may lack the sparkling offence of the Clasico clubs, they boast a steely determination that their more illustrious rivals struggle to match.
Simeone will call upon that ahead of Saturday’s derby clash as he has done so many times in the past.
Between 2000 and 2012, Atleti failed to win a single league derby against their rivals, but they have been the dominant force in the fixture when played in La Liga in recent times. Indeed, they have won four of the last 11, with six draws and only one Real victory.
The Argentine will be hopeful, therefore, that this trend can continue at the Wanda Metropolitano over the weekend.
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