After an exciting 11 match days, the Madrid Derby is upon us. With both teams feeling they have alot to prove Saturday, Will Richardson takes an in-depth look at their recent match history and gives us his predictions for the upcoming showdown.
There have been 31 league matches under the Zinedine Zidane and so far we only have one loss, a 1-0 loss at the hands of Atletico Madrid. The once quiet but now very noisy neighbors are among the best in Europe and seem to have had Real’s number in league play recently with their last loss being way back when Jose Mourinho was in charge of Los Blancos.
However, before Simeone’s management, Atleti hadn’t beaten us in the 21st century. Add to that Real have found success in the Champions league against their rivals knocking them out of the competition the past 3 years 2 of them being in the final, and the match up doesn’t look so unequal.
This derby is absolutely massive for both teams. If Real win they, will be 9 points clear of Atleti. They will also top the table regardless of what happens in the Barca-Malaga match. Even though it’s still early in the season, a head start always helps.
For Atleti this game has an added bit of motivation for the fans and players. It could be the last Madrid derby in the Vicente Calderon unless the two clubs face off later on in the knockout stages of the Champions league or the Copa del Rey.
On top of all that these matches tend to have extra importance in the La Liga title race because the top three of Spain (Real, Barca and Atleti) tend not to drop many points unless they are playing each other.
Key Players Missing
Real are missing two key midfielders in Kross and Casemiro, who would both have a clear tactical role in this game. Kross would be responsible for basically doing what he does week in, week out: bossing the match.
The Real Madrid midfielder is key to passing through high presses and getting the ball to one of our forwards. His cross-field balls will also be dearly missed as switching the play is key to tiring the Atletico defense by making them run all over the field.
Casemiro is also confirmed to be out for the derby. Real Madrid don’t have a player to fill for Casemiro’s defensive presence. He is an absolute wall defensively, and the only true CDM on the squad. He would’ve been very useful for when Atleti do get their chance to counter. Casemiro may be limited offensively, but he is key to this side having balance.
Real Madrid Predicted Line Up
Real Madrid will most likely roll out in their usual 4-3-3 formation but with a couple of key changes due to injury.
Casemiro, Kross, and Pepe are all key starters that are missing this match, but Kovacic, Isco and Varane are more than worthy back ups are will be looking to prove that they belong in this first team selection.
With the ball, the full backs will most likely turn into 2nd wingers. You will most likely see Kovacic sprint through the center of the pitch with his amazing acceleration. Modric will be covering for him and vice versa. In defensive play, don’t be surprised to see Bale, Ronaldo or both drop deep periodically before springing on the counter attack.
Atletico Madrid Predicted Line Up
Atletico Madrid will also appear in their usual formation which is a 4-4-2. As of now they aren’t missing anyone due to injury. Their talisman Antoine Greizmann, who scored the winning goal in the last meeting between the two sides, did however pick up a knock vs Sweden during the week. He’s not likely to be 100% match fit.
Carrasco will sometimes join the two strikers when they have the ball to make it a front three. Without the ball, you might see ten Atletico players in their own third. But don’t let that fool you; that can be when they are most dangerous because they can counter attack in the blink of an eye and score.
Real Madrid’s Form This Season
Real Madrid currently sit atop the La Liga table with 27 points. They are unbeaten across all competitions but even in the games they win, they haven’t always looking convincing. Some would say it’s because Real still haven’t had one game with their full first choice starting XI. Others will say its down to Zidane going into some games without a tactical plan.
I tend to agree with both, but I think its saying a lot when a team is unbeaten and top of their league, with room for improvement. The amazing attacking trident of the BBC haven’t gelled like they usually do this season. This is mostly because Ronaldo and Benzema both have been dealing with injuries and are still trying to recover their match fitness. This game will be Real Madrid’s biggest test of the year and they will need their best performance of the season so far to get the three points in the electric atmosphere of the Calderon.
Atletico Madrid’s Form This Season
As for Atletico Madrid, they are currently 4th in the table with 21 points. Atleti started off very slow with two draws against Alaves and Leganes but then kicked back into gear with five wins and a draw away to Barca. Then they slowed back down again with two losses vs Sevilla and Sociedad and a 4-2 win vs Malaga.
One thing that is different from past Simeone teams is they are much more attack oriented. Moving Koke to a Central role instead of being pushed out wide to fit two CDMs has been a great move for their attack. Their three main forwards Yannick Carrasco, Antoine Griezmann and Kevin Gameiro have been in sterling form to start the season. The french striker partnership has been a seamless fit into the Atleti style of play. Meanwhile Carrasco already has 5 league goals this season; he only managed 4 all of last year!
While they have looked better going forward their defense hasn’t been as much of a wall. They have already conceded 8 goals this season throughout the 11 games. They only conceded 18 times in 38 games last year. At this rate, they’ll be at around 28 goal conceded by the end of the season
Real Madrid’s Likely Tactics
Real Madrid have to change their usual tactics if they want to win this game. They can’t just play into Atleti’s hands by playing the ball out wide then crossing the ball 30 times a match. While we do have amazing headers of the ball, Diego Godin is far too good of an aerial defender to try that the whole game.
They need to try to penetrate through the middle of their defense with either brilliant individual runs or quick tidy link up play. They also have to find a balance between controlling the game with proactive possession and hitting Atleti on the counter by unleashing the incredible pace of Bale and Ronaldo.
Atletico Madrid’s Likely Tactics
Atletico will be looking to do what they usually do: make Real Madrid uncomfortable and not let them get into any rhythm.
Simeone’s side will be looking to push play wide, forcing Real to cross the ball. This would allow them to win the physical battles once again. Without Casemiro in Real’s lineup, that task is now easier. Typically if Real start to pass around Atleti, they will start to foul more to stop the flow of the game and to allow their players to get back into their defensive position.
Don’t let all this talk about their defense fool you though. When they get the chance, they are the most clinical side in the world when it comes to counters. You only need to watch the away leg vs Bayern last year for proof.
They were actually being dominated but one ball got flung up top to Fernando Torres who played the through ball to what was arguably the best one-on-one finish last season. Antoine Griezmann slotted the ball past Manuel Neuer, and boom 2-1, 2-2 aggregate. Atleti went through on away goals.
Real must be extra careful in possession to not make any careless passes or give the ball away because that could easily be their downfall.
I truly believe this game could go either way and with Atleti’s crowd behind them. Atletico Madrid will make it very tough for the team in all white to get a result. Which is why I’ve gone for a 1-1 draw with the goal scorers being Carrasco and Gareth Bale.