Real Madrid sit in third place in La Liga, behind FC Barcelona in goal differential and five points off the pace of league leaders Atletico Madrid. On Sunday afternoon at the Wanda Metropolitano, Los Blancos will have an opportunity to cut Atleti’s lead to two if they can defeat their crosstown rivals for a second time this season.
Although Atleti showed cracks in both matches against Levante and a woeful Champions League performance against Chelsea, Los Rojiblancos are still deserving of their spot as league leaders. Their defense is as strong as ever, Luis Suarez has added real attacking firepower to Diego Simeone’s side, and they have been more consistent against lower-tier competition.
In order for Los Merengues to claim all three points in this pivotal match, these five players must shine on Sunday.
CM Toni Kroos
Stopping Toni Kroos will be a focal point of Diego Simeone’s gameplan this week, because he knows how vital the German center midfielder is to Real Madrid’s success. According to WhoScored.com, Kroos is La Liga’s leader with 2.5 key passes per game. That’s 0.5 more than the men behind him, which is a list that includes Lionel Messi.
Los Blancos need Kroos to dictate play, create chances, and assist on set pieces. His importance to the team increases when Karim Benzema isn’t playing, because Kroos’ set pieces become an even more crucial source of goals.
If Kroos has another great game on Sunday, Real’s chances of beating Atleti again will be high.