Atletico Madrid vs. Real Madrid
Venue: Wanda Metropolitano
Kick off: 4:15PM
Real Madrid will travel to bitter rivals Atletico Madrid this afternoon knowing that a win at the Wanda Metropolitano would see them move above Diego Simeone’s side in La Liga.
Atletico have been Barcelona’s closest challengers in the league this season, but their defeat at Real Betis last weekend means that Los Blancos have the chance to rise into second position in Spain’s top flight.
Twelve wins, eight draws and two defeats – that is how Atletico have performed in La Liga this season.
A total of 44 points has left them in second spot in the table, two points ahead of third-placed Madrid and six points behind the leaders Barcelona entering Week 23 in Spain’s top flight.
No team has lost fewer league matches than Atletico this term, but their second defeat of the campaign occurred away at Betis last weekend.
Barcelona’s 2-2 draw against Valencia on Saturday handed Atletico a huge chance to close the gap, but Simeone’s side were beaten by a strong Betis team in Seville.
There is no getting away from the fact that Atletico have drawn too many matches this season, while they have also not scored enough goals.
To put their goal record into context, Simeone’s team have only netted 32 times, which is 28 less than Barcelona. Madrid, Sevilla and even Celta Vigo in 16th have scored more goals than Atletico this term.
That said, it will not come as a surprise to learn that Atletico once again have the best defensive record in the top flight.
Indeed, they have only conceded 14 times, which is comfortably the strongest record.
Indeed, Barcelona have shipped nine more goals, while Madrid have conceded 12 more.
Antoine Griezmann has contributed 10 league goals this season, but Diego Costa, Nikola Kalinic and Angel Correa have just five between them.
Alvaro Morata has now arrived on loan from Chelsea though and he will be desperate to make his mark against his former club on Saturday afternoon.
Atletico have the best home record in the league this season having won nine of their 11 fixtures and lost just twice.
They have also conceded just four times at home, which is an indication of their incredible strength at the Wanda Metropolitano, which recently replaced the iconic Vicente Calderon.
Atletico’s absence from the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey means that they have had a free week ahead of this match, while they are not in Champions League last-16 action until February 20, meaning that they should be well-rested and fully focused on this weekend’s huge Madrid derby.
There is absolutely no question that Madrid have turned a corner in recent weeks and they will enter this match off the back of an excellent result against Barcelona in the first leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final on Wednesday.
Indeed, a 1-1 draw at Camp Nou has placed Madrid as the favourites ahead of the second leg, with Lucas Vazquez on the scoresheet for Santiago Solari’s side, who have only lost one of their last nine games in all competitions.
Madrid did not have the most ideal of starts to 2019, drawing with Villarreal and losing to Real Sociedad in the league.
Since then, however, their only defeat was against Leganes in the second leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final, which did not matter too much when considering that they still advanced on aggregate.
Ahead of Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with Barcelona, Madrid had won five games in a row, including their last four in the league to close the ground on Atletico.
Indeed, they have scored 10 times in their last four league victories, the last of which was a 3-0 success at home to Alaves last weekend.
Madrid still have their issues and it is difficult to imagine that Barcelona will drop enough points to let them back into the title race.
However, a spot in the final of the Copa del Rey is very much open, while they simply cannot be written off in the Champions League due to their incredible success in that competition.
It is a huge period of the season for Madrid when considering that they will travel to Ajax next week for the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash.
Solari’s side will then face Girona and Levante in the league before welcoming Barcelona for the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final at the end of this month.
Fatigue might well come into it this weekend as Madrid have played a lot of football in recent weeks, but Los Blancos are full of confidence and will be desperate to return to second position in the table.
Atletico Madrid possible XI: Oblak, Arias, Gimenez, Godin, Lucas Hernandez, Koke, Thomas, Rodri, Saul, Griezmann, Morata.
Real Madrid possible XI: Courtois, Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Reguilon, Casemiro, Modric, Kroos, Bale, Benzema, Lucas.