Classic LaLiga football cracker beckons this weekend as Real Madrid host Atletico Madrid at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano on the evening of Saturday 12 December 2020.
The Madrid derby, or ‘El Derbi Madrileno’, is one of the highlights of the Spanish football calendar and sees the reigning LaLiga champions, Real Madrid, play host to the team many pundits will replace them on the throne, Atletico Madrid.
While Los Blancos have struggled to find consistency in performances and results, the Rojiblancos have looked organised, disciplined and determined – all characteristics associated with manager Diego Simeone.
“I’m only interested in the team winning. We’ll always look for ways to win. Sometimes we will play better, other times no. But that’s football,” said the Argentine.
Real manager, Zinedine Zidane, has the tendency of pulling a rabbit out of the hat when a result is needed most, and it would be no major surprise if that happened again this weekend.
“My team performs best when we are under pressure, with intensity and seriousness. I hope we can rise to the challenge and produce another strong performance when we need it most,” said the Frenchman.
Key players to watch
Sergio Ramos – After recent time on the sidelines with a hamstring injury, Real captain Sergio Ramos should be back in the line-up for this clash against Atletico. Not only is Ramos a master of the ‘dark arts’ of defending, he is also a regular goal scorer at the other end and a true talisman for Los Blancos.
Joao Felix – The young Portuguese attacker has started to live up to the massive hype attached to him when he signed for Atletico at the start of last season. Quick, skillful, creative and above all brilliantly instinctual in the final third, the 21-year-old could prove the difference between two closely matched teams in this derby.
In head-to-head stats, Real and Atletico have met in 225 matches across all competitions since their first meeting back in 1906. Los Blancos have claimed 111 wins compared to 56 for the Rojiblancos, while 58 games have been drawn.
Real took four points off Atletico in the teams’ two league meetings last season: a 0-0 draw at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano in September 2019 was followed by a 1-0 home win for Los Blancos in the return game in February 2020, with Karim Benzema finding the back of the net.
Battles to watch
Zinedine Zidane v Diego Simeone – Two legendary midfielders turned brilliant managers, the tactical battle between Zidane and Simeone could be decisive. ‘Zizou’ will hope his side’s attacking firepower holds sway, but the discipline and organisation Simeone has instilled could give the team in red and white stripes a big advantage.
Karim Benzema v Stefan Savic – Real’s prolific forward was a major driving force behind their title win last season, but he’ll need to be at his best to find a way past Stefan Savic, who is settled into the centre-back role for Atletico and sits at the heart of a superbly-organised defence.
Luka Modric v Geoffrey Kondogbia – Real’s Croatian playmaker continues to be their all-action man in the middle: creating chances, finding space, and putting out fires all through the ‘engine room’. He’ll come up against a tough opponent in Central African Republic man Kondogbia, who has settled in well as Thomas Partey’s replacement.