What: Spanish La Liga
Who: Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid
When: Saturday 26th November, 2011, at 19:00 UK time
Where: Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain
Having dispatched Dinamo Zagreb 6-2 in midweek Champions League action, Real Madrid turn their attention back to La Liga as they prepare to welcome neighbours Atletico Madrid to the Bernabeu. This will be the 147th league derby between the pair and Jose Mourinho’s men will hope their red-hot form can lead to the continuation of what has been a very one-sided rivalry in recent years.
The win against Zagreb was Madrid’s twelfth consecutive victory in all competition, a record that was even more impressive given that Mourinho’s side contained a number of second-string players.
Despite not taking part in the rout, club captain Iker Casillas noted that his team are in a run of superb form, though the Spanish goalkeeper warned that Los Blancos do not consider themselves favourites against Los Colchoneros: “It’s a derby where everyone is watching and I am sure Atletico will want to play a good game”, said Casillas. “I don’t think we are favourites, but we all know that we are doing really well of late. Our aim is to take things one game at a time."
The injury front is where Mourinho has had cause to wish for better luck, and the Portuguese will hope to bring back the likes of Kaka, Marcelo and Angel di Maria – all players who have proven to be pivotal to Los Merengues’ charge this term – in time for El Derbi Madrileno.
Break the Curse
Atletico Madrid should come into this clash keen for the chance to break their woeful local derby form. Having not won a league meeting for twelve years, Atletico’s players nonetheless remain motivated every time they meet their cross-city rivals. Whether this is the time for the curse to be broken remains to be seen.
Having ended their league campaign with a disappointing 3-2 defeat to Getafe before the international fixtures imposed themselves, the Mattress Makers bounced back to winning ways last weekend, being on the right side of the same scoreline against former league leaders Levante; a much needed outcome for a team that has won just a third of their twelve league games so far, with no victories away from home.
Even in light of such poor form on the road though, club midfielder Gabi believes that Atletico are capable of springing a surprise at the Bernabeu.
“We are going for the win at the Bernabeu”, confirmed the 28-year-old. “We should not fear anyone. It’s time to show that we are capable of having a great match at the Bernabeu. It is a special game for us and for the fans. We intend to do everything in our power to provide the victory", added the ex-Real Zaragoza player.
Real Madrid 7-1 Osasuna (06/11; La Liga)
Valencia 2-3 Real Madrid (19/11; La Liga)
Real Madrid 6-2 Dinamo Zagreb (22/11; Champions League)
Getafe 3-2 Atletico Madrid (06/11; La Liga)
Zamalek 1-4 Atletico Madrid (10/11; Friendly)
Atletico Madrid 3-2 Levante (20/11; La Liga)
Real Madrid: Kaka (doubt); Angel di Maria (doubt); Ricardo Carvalho (doubt); Marcelo (doubt); Alvaro Arbeloa (doubt)
Atletico Madrid: Joel; Antonio Lopez; Diego Costa; Radamel Falcao (doubt); Silvio; Tiago (doubt)
Players to watch
Real Madrid – Sergio Ramos: The displays of Real Madrid’s vice-captain in the centre of defence have been impeccable in Ricardo Carvalho’s absence, raising the questionof whether Ramos should remain there permanently. The versatile defender is looking more and more like his old self as the games go by.
Atletico Madrid – Jose Antonio Reyes: The former Arsenal star is trying to earn an “indispensable” tag at the Vicente Calderon, despite rumours he could be sold in January. Still disappointed with the way he exited Real Madrid after literally handing the club the 2006/07 La Liga title, Reyes will have a point to prove.
It is hard to see Atletico breaking their jinx at Real Madrid, especially given the way their rivals have been playing lately. Back home at the Bernabeu, Mourinho’s men will impose themselves to earn their thirteenth successive win. Real Madrid 3-0 Atletico Madrid.
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