Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid will celebrate another city derby. The Spanish capital teams have let FC Barcelona escape and now must focus on not failing at all in case the leader drops points at some point. This will be a great test for Los Blancos, as their neighbors have become their fiercest enemy in recent years. Villarreal will keep an eye on this result, as it could make them cut the points distance.
Preferred Formation: 4-2-3-1
Zinedine Zidane suffered another huge blow after drawing against Málaga last weekend. They should’ve lost the match, as Ronaldo was in an offside position when he scored the opening goal. While things are looking better in the Champions League, the team needs to demonstrate that they won’t give up on any fight. Despite this being his main objective, Gareth Bale won’t be able to participate.
GK: Keylor Navas
He really did help his team from possibly losing the entire three points. When everyone else seems to be disconnected and unmotivated, he’s had to up his game. It’s very likely that he’ll be a deciding factor at the Bernabéu.
RB: Dani Carvajal
After a good streak of positive showings, he suffered last weekend at La Rosaleda. Even so, he was able to survive without getting a yellow card that would’ve kept him from playing this weekend.
CB: Raphaël Varane
His red card suspension has expired and his teammates will be glad to have him back. Atleti’s attack requires special attention and his speed will come in handy. They’ve been able to overpower him in past encounters, so doing well is a must.
CB: Sergio Ramos
With Varane suspended, he had to step up to the plate. Apart from his great Champions League performance, he’s become an inconsistent player. His strength and leadership are needed for a match of this caliber.
The Brazilian played despite his physical problems. He should be better by now and improve his chances of doing well. His explosiveness will be necessary for feeding Ronaldo and company in the attack.
RCM: Luka Modrić
He’s the only one that routinely strives to give at least a decent performance. It probably won’t be good enough this time around. His creativity and electricity are the perfect tools for breaking the rival defense.
LCM: Toni Kroos
His good progression was stopped after a gray day at Málaga. This can’t happen again now, as the opposing midfield has what it takes to complicate things. Building solid opportunities consistently will be a priority.
RW: James Rodríguez
His coach decided to bench him after his shoulder problems versus AS Roma. He’s expected to start, as the clash requires the best of the best on the field. It will be special since he scored his first goal as a Madridista against Los Colchoneros.
His visits to his former team don’t really bring out the best of him. Although he started the match well, he declined with time. With Benzema back and Bale’s impending return, he must do a lot better.
LW: Cristiano Ronaldo
An offside position and a missed penalty damaged his recent form. He lost weight in the second half and his teammates really needed him. Atleti has been a tough challenge for him in recent years.
ST: Karim Benzema
He’s the good news of the week, as he’s recovered and ready to play. While Jesé and Kovačić helped out in some ways, their contributions can’t be compared to Karim’s. He doesn’t do particularly well in city derbies.