First Madrid derby of the season pivotal for Atletico

Euro 2016

Fine Real side in fine form

In La Liga this season Real Madrid is the only team with an unbeaten record, which they will aspire to preserve against their fierce city rivals Atletico.

Of their eleven games, Real has won eight and drawn three to amass 27 points, which is two more than second placed Barcelona.  Three successive draws against Eibar, Las Palmas and Villareal, were preceded by Real winnning each of their first four games of the La Liga season.  Subsequently Zinedine Zidane’s side are currently amidst a four game winning run, which began with a 6-1 away victory over Real Betis.

Whilst that win was impressive so to have been those which Real Madrid achieved against Atletico Bilbao, Alaves and Leganes, with striker Alvaro Morata scoring in each of those games.

The 24-year-old striker has been the beneficiary of some excellent service, the chief architects of which are Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo.  Nevertheless the duo is not solely responsible for their team’s fine attacking build-up, with other major contributors to that being Isco, Mateo Kovacic and Toni Kroos, who combine to form an accomplished central midfield unit.

Whilst being a potent attacking force, Real are at times vulnerable defensively, having kept just three clean sheets in La Liga this season, whilst conceding seven goals in four Champions League group stage games.  The most recent of those games was a highly entertaining 3-3 draw away to Legia Warsaw, whereby Kovacic scored a late equaliser for Real after they surrendered a 2-0.

Room for Real to improve

Therefore as is the case with any team, there is vast scope for Real Madrid to improve, with their being great incentive for them to do so, so as to ensure that they are as well-equipped as they possibly can be to retain their position at the top of La Liga throughout this season.

Atletico strive to challenge arch rivals

At present whilst holding a two point advantage over Barcelona, Real are also six points ahead of Atletico.  Therefore the outcome of the upcoming Madrid derby may prove pivotal in terms of Atletico’s prospects of being able to challenge their fierce rivals to win La Liga.

Victory for Diego Simeone’s side would result in them moving to within just three points of Madrid and inject fresh momentum in Atletico’s season after they fell to a 2-0 defeat to Real Sociedad in their last La Liga fixture.  Conversely should Atletico lose to Real the gap between the two team’s will widen to nine points.  Even at this early stage of the season, that represents a significant deficit to overall.

Of late, Atletico’s form has been inconsistent with them losing two of their last four La Liga games, whilst winning the other two 7-1 and 4-2 against Granada and Malaga respectively.  During that spell, despite not scoring domestically, Antoine Greizmann’s brace helped Atletico to a 2-1 Champions League group stage win over FC Rostov.  However the 25-year-old may miss the Madrid derby due to having a haematoma on his left foot which he sustained whilst playing for France as they won their 2018 World Cup qualifier 2-1 against Sweden.  With the expectation being for Greizmann to undergo treatment this week, it is entirely uncertain as to whether he will be fit to face Real Madrid at the Vicente Calderon.

Latest battle in Atletico and Real rivalry as vital as ever

Ultimately the game is vitally important for both teams but particularly for Atletico as they strive to prevent Real from extending their lead over them at the top of the La Liga table.

An intriguing battle is set to unfold between two giants of European football.

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