Hassan Chamas

What: Spanish La Liga
Who: Real Madrid (1st; 71 points) versus Atletico Madrid (8th; 37 points)
When: Sunday 28th March, 2010, at 21:00 CET
Where: Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain

Free Scoring

Real Madrid welcome crosstown neighbours and rivals Atletico Madrid in the 169th league edition of El Derbi madrileno on Sunday, knowing that three points against the Mattress Makers could prove to be crucial in their bid towards a 32nd league accolade.

Despite a growing list of injuries, Los Merengues have not found goals hard to come by. Having scored eleven in their last three league matches, they elevated their goal tally to 78, making them the strongest attacking force this season. However, that doesn't mean that coach Manuel Pellegrini won’t be crossing his fingers to get his players out of the treatment room in time for the Madrid derby, and certainly in time for the El Clasico showdown, now just two weeks away.

Vying for Sixth Spot

For their part, Atletico Madrid will also be looking for all three points against their city foes in their quest to snatch the last Europa League qualifying place and try to salvage something from what has been a disappointing season for Los Colchoneros.

After being taught a footballing lesson by high-flyers Real Mallorca last weekend, Atletico knew that they needed all three points against Athletic Bilbao during their midweek league clash. And goals from Sergio Aguero and Diego Forlan meant that Los Rojiblancos earned a well-deserved win over their Basque visitors. Remembering their late – yet unfruitful – resurgence against Los Blancos in the corresponding fixture earlier this season, Quique Flores’s team will make sure not to repeat the same mistakes this time around and will hope to surprise at the Bernabeu.

Recent form

Real Madrid:
Real Valladolid 1-4 Real Madrid (14/03 – La Liga)
Real Madrid 3-1 Sporting de Gijon (20/03 – La Liga)
Getafe 2-4 Real Madrid (25/03 – La Liga)

Atletico Madrid:
Sporting Lisbon 2-2 Atletico Madrid (18/03 – Europa League)
RCD Mallorca 4-1 Atletico Madrid (21/03 – La Liga)
Atletico Madrid 2-0 Athletic Bilbao (25/03 – La Liga)

Key absences

Real Madrid: Lassana Diarra (doubt); Mahamadou Diarra (doubt); Royston Drenthe (doubt); Pepe; Karim Benzema; Kaka

Atletico Madrid: Tiago (doubt)

Players to watch

Real Madrid – Gonzalo Higuain: The Real Madrid striker has been on a brilliant run; doing everything he can to surpass Lionel Messi in the Pichichi race. Having scored six goals in his team’s last three games, “Pipita” will make sure he adds to his tally some more in this weekend’s derby.

Atletico Madrid – David de Gea: One of this season’s revelations, de Gea has done a great job as Atletico Madrid keeper ever since he broke into the first team, relegating Sergio Asenjo to the bench. Facing the toughest attacking side in La Liga, the youngster might be up against his most difficult challenge yet.

Match prediction

Rarely does the Madrid derby fail to impress, let alone have a gritty scoreline, and this time it won’t be any different. Atletico haven’t won the derby for quite some time now, and given Real’s impeccable home run, things won’t be easy for them. Expect a 4-2 scoreline in favour of Real Madrid.

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