The Madrid derby, or El derbi mardileno as it is called in Spain, is another high-profile match adding to the impressive list of games available this weekend. Diego Simeone’s men are hoping to close the gap behind La Liga leaders Real Madrid in a match that is expected to be another fiercely contested encounter between last season’s UEFA Champions League finalists.
Simeone slowing down?
The Argentine tactician has been with Atletico Madrid since 2011 and during this entire time he did great to improve their own managerial reputation and develop a strong side which has become renowned for their physical dominance. Lor Rojiblancos have been able to use their impressive work-rate as a winning tool, becoming one of Europe’s most feared sides over the last couple of years. The ongoing season, however, have brought a somewhat slower start for Atletico Madrid, who are sitting in fourth place of the La Liga standings, six points behind their Saturday’s rivals. October’s 2-0 defeat at Sevilla, and the same result’s slump at Real Sociedad just before the international break have placed Diego Simeone under great scrutiny. The forthcoming game against the big rivals will be of great importance for the club, team’s morale and the manager himself, who has recently cut down his contract with Los Rojiblancos, causing plenty of speculations along the way. Atletico Madrid have a good record against Real Madrid, and will be looking to extend their unbeaten home run against Los Blancos in the league which extends to April 2013.
Atletico Madrid’s in-form striker Antoine Griezmann is the biggest worry ahead of the clash with Real Madrid. The French international is suffering from a bruised foot and remains and will have his fitness assessed on matchday. Alessio Cerci and Augusto Fernandez are the only two confirmed absentees.
Can Real remain unbeaten?
Constantly under the public scrutiny and with a huge pressure on his shoulders, French tactician Zinedine Zidane has done well enough to lead his team to the top of La Liga standings 11 games inside the new season. Los Blancos remain the only unbeaten side in the Spanish top tier and will be looking to extend their positive record after the Saturday’s match at Vicente Calderon. Zidane has faced plenty of selection issues throughout the season so far, but has shown great tactical diversity to keep his team’s rich vein of form alive. The Madrid derby however will be his biggest challenge yet and a stern test to Real Madrid’s title credentials early in the 2016-17 campaign. It has been seven straight matches across competitions that Real Madrid managed to beat Atletico Madrid on the road and Zidane will also have tradition to beat in order to keep his team top of the league. Simeone’s men have become one of Real Madrid’s weakest spots and Los Blancos will have to overcome their ingrown fears of the neighbours if they want to remain unbeaten in the league.
No less than seven first-team players are either injured or doubtful for Saturday night. Marco Asensio is struggling with a hip injury, while Casemiro is ruled out with an ankle injury. Alvaro Morata and Pepe are enduring muscle problems which have ruled them out of the game, while there is a huge question mark over the availability of Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos and Toni Kroos.
Plenty is at stake ahead of the big derby at Vicente Calderon on Saturday. Neither side will want to lose the game which means that both Simeone and Zidane could be adopting a cautious approach. Having in mind Real Madrid’s terrible run against the Los Blancos we are prone to offer our support to the home side for the occasion.
Top pick: Atletico Madrid 2.50 (6/4) @BetVictor
Alternative pick 1: Under 2.5 goals 1.85 (17/20) @Bet365
Alternative pick 2: Both teams to score – no 2.05 (21/20) @WilliamHill