The first Madrid Derby is upon us, and what a cracker it is looking to be! Just one point separates the teams and tonight’s result will affect the top of the table, bringing Atletico back to the top, or extending Real’s lead.
Madrid Derby – Form
Despite being unbeaten this season, many believed that Real Madrid would be in trouble at the start. 5 points from a possible 9 left them slightly adrift of the top of the table. Then came the Champions League, and with it, a 3-0 thrashing at the hands of PSG. Since the difficult night in Paris, however, back to back wins see them sitting top of the table.
Goals have not been in short supply either, with 12 goals scored, only 2 teams have more in the league. Zidane’s side still play to win despite the great loss of Ronaldo. Despite the big signings we saw them make in the summer, none of Real Madrid’s new players have really made an impact. Injuries have stuttered Hazard and Mendy’s starts, and Luka Jovic cannot force out the free-scoring Karim Benzema, who is slowly moving towards legend status at the club. 19 year old Vinicius Jr is the only player under 25 to play more than 200 minutes this season as Real’s ageing squad moves another year.
Atletico, on the other hand, are looking to the youth already as they look to build the squad for the future. Saul, Gimenez, Renan Lodi and the second most expensive teenager of all time, Joao Felix (£113 million), have all played big parts in the side’s success.
In what many would describe as the classic Atletico fashion, goals do not come as fast as some of their rivals. Averaging just over 1 goal per game, the team aims to outplay their opponents and stopping them scoring is just as effective as scoring yourselves. Only Athletic Bilbao (with an astonishing 2) have conceded less than Atletico Madrid this season.
In all competitions, the last fixture played between the two was in July of this year when the sides played an incredible 10 goal thriller. Real emerged winners with a 7-3 victory which saw both sides go down to 10 men.
Last season in the league the games were a bit tighter, with a 0-0 draw at the Wanda Metropolitano before Madrid won 3-1 in the opposing tie. Antoine Griezmann scored the only goal in this game.
Players to watch
The man in form, there is no doubt that Karim Benzema will be the focal point of Zidane’s attack. With 5 goals in just 433 minutes, the Frenchman is showing why he has been a staple of the Real attack for so long, and showing the 60 million man Luka Jovic that you cannot just stroll into the Madrid side, you must earn your place.
A difficult start to the season, injuries plagued Eden Hazard’s start to life in Madrid, but after playing 31 minutes in the win against Levante 2 weeks ago, Hazard got his start last week against Sevilla. Despite not having much of an impact in the game, the Belgian got 90 minutes under his belt just in time for the Madrid derby! Can he remind the world why Real were so eager to sign him, and hit the kind of performances we so miss in the Premier League?
Looking to Atletico, young Joao Felix has had a better start. 2 goals and 1 assist see him leading the goal contributions in red and white. Attempting 2.3 shots per game, no other player in their side has more. In the cracking 2-2 draw between Atletico and Juventus, Felix played up top with Diego Costa, and with the sending off and subsequent ban of Alvaro Morata, it is assumed that this will be the case again tonight.
Keiran Trippier made the move to Madrid from North London in the summer in a transfer that not many would have predicted. Since then he has been almost a staple, playing 450 minutes out of 540, providing an assist and winning 2.6 tackles per game. Winning man of the match against Juventus will give the Englishman the drive to keep pushing and prove himself in Spain.
Other notable players include Vinicius Jr, Bale (if he plays!), 19 year old Brazilian Renan Lodi, and Thomas Partey, who has been the rock in midfield this season.
Oblak; Trippier, Savic, Gimenez, Renan Lodi; Saul, Thomas Partey, Koke, Vitolo; Diego Costa, Joao Felix
Courtois; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Nacho; Casemiro, Kroos, Modric; Hazard, Benzema, Bale