In a surprising, but deserved victory, Real Madrid beat Atlético Madrid and increased their lead in La Liga to four points. Still, there’s no time for celebration as the UEFA Champions League returns.
With qualification to the next round still not secured, a win would be enough to achieve it. Sporting Lisbon has it more difficult to advance, but they’ll fight to continue their journey in the Europa League.
Preferred Formation: 4-4-2
Zinedine Zidane mixed things up in the Madrid derby by changing the system. With Casemiro and Kroos absent, the balance needed to be restored in the midfield.
Modrić and Kovačić collaborated effectively while Isco had more freedom to move. It turned out to be a solid adjustment that will probably be repeated on Tuesday. However, with Benzema and Ramos set to play, the 4-3-3 could return.
GK: Keylor Navas
The Costa Rican continued his clean sheet streak in one of the matches that would be most difficult to get one. This revitalized form should give him more confidence for the tough challenges ahead.
RB: Dani Carvajal
When Carrasco changed wings, he suffered a bit. Nevertheless, he did well enough to keep Navas safe and earn that clean sheet. Danilo may start next weekend, yet the UCL will certainly be for Carvajal.
CB: Raphaël Varane
Even though there were tough moments throughout the derby, he did a fantastic job overall with his partner Nacho. If this is a sign of things to come, Zizou has a lot to be thankful for.
CB: Sergio Ramos
Nacho Fernández was the shocking surprise over the weekend. Jointly with Varane, he featured in the catastrophic 4-0 loss in that stadium not too long ago. While he redeemed himself with a job well done, the captain has it all to start.
He was dutiful all around. He proved that when the defense comes together, fewer costly mistakes are made. Like Carvajal, he may get the day off against the other Sporting in La Liga next weekend.
RM: Lucas Vázquez
He doesn’t get to start that often and he didn’t disappoint. Although it wasn’t his best showing, he worked hard in both the attack and the defense. Should the 4-3-3 return, his spot would probably be the sacrificed one.
RCM: Luka Modrić
The Croatian made a triumphant return to the starting lineup. He tends to have a tough time playing against the rocky Atlético midfield, still, that wasn’t the case on Saturday. His presence is guaranteed.
LCM: Mateo Kovačić
Like his fellow countryman, he did a great job working in a more defensive role. He’s steadily showing more and more confidence, setting him apart from competitors like James and Asensio. With him, Kroos’ absence can be dealt with in a good way.
LM: Gareth Bale
He played a little further back than usual, yet his contribution wasn’t affected. He managed to provide the assist for the third and final goal in a fantastic run. If Benzema comes back, he may have to go back to the right wing.
One of the strongest performers on Saturday, in what could be his best one this season. It couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time, as it will give him a large edge over Asensio and James Rodríguez.
ST: Cristiano Ronaldo
He played as the #9 and performed just like one. With a hat trick, he led the team in one of the most challenging fixtures of the entire calendar. His celebrations show he’s ready to stand up against his critics.