It’s been 14 years since Atletico Madrid last beat Real Madrid in el Derbi Madrileño, but the result of last season’s Copa Del Rey final and their undefeated start to the season aims to turn this clash of rivals as the likeliest one to see a turn of tradition.
Not seeing Jose Mourinho on the sidelines has to be a good sign for Atletico Madrid, as they’ve lost in all the league derbies between the two sides while the Portuguese manager was in charge. Everything changed in the Cup Final four months ago, but it doesn’t mean Atletico Madrid aren’t arriving as favorites.
However, confidence is a huge part of their M.O at the moment. Diego Costa is talked about as one of the best forward in Europe all of a sudden, and no longer as a brute who also happens to score goals. However, due to his past encounters with Sergio Ramos, the two will be closely watched at every moment.
Things haven’t gone smoothly for Atletico in recent weeks, but their physical and direct approach, backed by a very aggressive defense that will be playing tighter and narrower than usual against Real Madrid, has been enabling Costa, Koke, David Villa and the excellent Leo Baptistao to do very well in terms of always having someone sharp enough to provide a finishing touch.
Real Madrid have problems that aren’t just about being two points behind in the table. They played dreadfully at Elche, and Gareth Bale, who is suppose to take some pressure off of Cristiano Ronaldo (hot as always with nine goals in his last five matches), will probably be out, or at least on the bench, but nothing more.
Teams might be figuring out that the key to make Real Madrid struggle this season is keeping a close eye on Isco of all people, forcing Angel di Maria to be the on-pitch manager, or make it about Luka Modric. In any case, it’s better to have Cristiano Ronaldo try to win the match on his own than the young midfielder have his way with those marking him. Not having Mario Suarez to help keep tabs on him is a slight blow, but Raul Garcia has played well this season when he has been called upon.
Prediction – Atletico will try to make this into something of a trench battle and muddy up the match. If Isco and Modric struggle to break free from the close marking we’re likely going to see, this is going to be another long 90 minutes for Real Madrid, maybe without any officials helping them this time. A draw seems like the likeliest of results.