Atletico vs. Real Madrid
One of the most eagerly-anticipated fixtures of the La Liga calendar will take place at the Wanda Metropolitano tonight as Atletico Madrid welcome Real Madrid for the latest instalment of the Madrid derby.
Real Madrid have faced criticism this season but top the table with 14 points following their 2-0 win over Osasuna on Wednesday night, while Atletico are second with 13 points heading into Week Seven.
Four wins, one draw and one defeat – that is how Atletico have performed in Spain’s top flight this season.
A total of 13 points has left them in second spot, trailing leaders Real Madrid by just a single point ahead of what is shaping up to be a very interesting capital derby at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Diego Simeone’s side opened their league season with a 1-0 home win over Getafe on August 18, before beating Leganes by the same scoreline one week later.
Atletico then made it three from three with a 3-2 home success over Eibar in their last match before the international break.
The capital giants were stopped in their tracks on September 14 as they suffered a 2-0 defeat at Real Sociedad, though, before being held to a goalless draw at home by Celta Vigo which allowed a number of clubs to catch up.
Wednesday night’s trip to Mallorca was hugely important for a number of reasons, and the capital giants returned to winning ways courtesy of goals from Diego Costa and Joao Felix.
A bunched-up league sees Atletico sit just one point off Real Madrid despite only managing seven goals this term.
Summer arrival Felix has managed two league goals in six outings, while Alvaro Morata and Costa have one each thus far.
The likes of Diego Godin, Juanfran and Filipe Luis are no longer at the club, but Simeone’s side have conceded just four times in their six league outings this season, which is the third-best record in the league.
Atletico have also been in Champions League action this season – opening their campaign with a 2-2 draw at home to Juventus on September 18.
Bayer Leverkusen and Lokomotiv Moscow are also in the same section, and therefore it would be a surprise if Los Rojiblancos did not make it to the round of 16.
In terms of the league, Atletico will travel to Real Valladolid and host Valencia in their two matches either side of the October international break, before finishing the month with games at home to Athletic Bilbao and away to Alaves.
Simeone will see the fixture list as winnable, but there are some potential banana skins.
It will be the first meeting between Atletico and Real Madrid since the former recorded a stunning 7-3 win during their preparations for the 2019-20 campaign.
There was little meaning to the game aside from the embarrassment, but Atletico were far superior during that pre-season clash.
For all the criticism that has come Real Madrid’s way in the early stages of the 2019-20 campaign, the capital giants are one of only two teams – the other being Athletic Bilbao – to boast an unbeaten record in La Liga this season.
Four wins and two draws have left them top – one point clear of second-placed Atletico and four clear of Barcelona, who are down in fifth following an indifferent start.
Los Blancos started their La Liga campaign with an impressive 3-1 win at Celta Vigo, before drawing back-to-back games against Real Valladolid and Villarreal.
At that point, questions were being asked, especially as their next win was far from convincing – a 3-2 home success over Levante.
Zinedine Zidane’s side then suffered a 3-0 defeat at Paris Saint-Germain in their Champions League group opener.
The French champions were without the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani and Neymar but still managed to run out convincing winners due to a strong performance from Angel Di Maria.
Real Madrid travelled to Sevilla last weekend under pressure to pick up a big result and one certainly arrived as they recorded a 1-0 win courtesy of a second-half header from Karim Benzema.
It was a huge result in the context of the season, and there is no question that it would have boosted the confidence of the players.
Zidane made wholesale changes for Wednesday’s clash with Osasuna, which was a risk considering that the capital outfit have not exactly blown teams away this season.
Los Blancos put in a strong performance, though, and goals from Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo Goes secured three important points.
The victory over Osasuna moved Real Madrid to the top of the table, and the European giants will now be looking to make it four straight La Liga victories when they travel to the Wanda Metropolitano for unquestionably one of their toughest matches of the season.
In terms of what is ahead, the capital giants will host Club Brugge in their next Champions League game on October 1, before welcoming Granada and travelling to Mallorca either side of the international break.
Eden Hazard is yet to really ignite at the Bernabeu but injuries have certainly played a part.
The Belgium international was left out against Osasuna with the view to making his mark against Atletico, though, and the visitors will need their big-money arrival to impress if they are to pick up a big result this weekend.
Atletico Madrid possible XI: Oblak, Trippier, Savic, Gimenez, Lodi, Saul, Thomas, Koke, Vitolo, Costa, Felix.
Real Madrid possible XI: Courtois, Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Nacho, Casemiro, Kroos, Modric, Hazard, Benzema, Bale.