Real Madrid could get their secret weapon back for El Derbi next weekend

Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane (Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane (Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images) /

Real Madrid will face Real Sociedad on Monday night at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, and that’s certainly a key fixture for them in the league with the title race heating up. But their most important possible match in the title race will take place next weekend at the Wanda Metropolitano against Atletico Madrid.

Los Blancos have weathered the storm well over the past several weeks. Despite facing a vast magnitude of injuries, Real won all five of their February matches, including a current streak of four straight clean sheets after their 1-0 Champions League win over Atalanta.

The upcoming tests in the league will be their toughest yet, but, thankfully, key players are starting to return to the fold.

According to a report from MARCA (article in Spanish), young center midfielder Fede Valverde was one of the players who returned to training on Saturday before the match against Real Sociedad. But the plan with El Pajarito isn’t to return him against La Real, but, rather, to wait to have him in the best shape for El Derbi.

Fede Valverde lives for El Derbi

We know what Valverde can do in a rivalry match. Valverde became a legend for his red-card tackle against Atletico Madrid in the Spanish Supercup Final last season, even earning praise from Diego Simeone for taking one for the team. And how many times have we seen Fede embarrass the higher-priced Frenkie de Jong of Barcelona? De Jong is no slouch, but Valverde made him look like one to the Madridistas watching.

So Valverde can be a major factor against Atleti, either off the bench or even as a starter for Luka Modric, though benching a player of Modric’s class would be risky. Real Madrid’s “old guard” midfield trio of Casemiro, Modric, and Toni Kroos has been incomparable of late, but Valverde should still have a role to play in El Derbi if he’s at full strength.

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Let’s hope for his continued recovery. Valverde has been excellent this season in his own right in all phases of the game, including as a goal-scorer. Real Madrid need that. So Madridistas should not forget how instrumental Valverde has been when healthy, even as he has yet to reach 750 league minutes in 2020-2021 due to injury. The derby is calling his name.