What: Spanish La Liga
Who: Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid
When: Sunday 2nd March, 2014, at 16:00 UK Time
Where: Vicente Calderon, Madrid, Spain

“A Final”

Three points off the top of the league, Atletico Madrid prepare to welcome leaders Real Madrid to the Vicente Calderon in what will be the third Madrid derby in less than a month. Having suffered a number of defeats in the past few games, Los Indios will be hoping that their fans will grant them the sufficient leverage in order to complete a double league win over their arch rivals. However, given how things are going for Carlo Ancelotti’s side, it will be hard to stop them, even at the Vicente Calderon.

Despite winning the corresponding fixture 1-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu at the end of September, things have turned for last season’s Copa del Rey winners, as their exit from the cup at the hands of Real Madrid themselves – 5-0 on aggregate – has hit them in the league as well, most recently losing 3-0 to Osasuna.

Knowing that a defeat would be detrimental to his side, Joao Miranda declared that the game will be treated like a “final” by his team-mates.

“It's a tough match. It is a final for us. We know it is a game that must be won, because if we lose it we will be far from winning the championship. With six points difference, the league would be very difficult to win. We must be careful and play to win”, declared the Brazilian stopper.

Ready for the Derby

If Real Madrid’s huge 6-1 win over Schalke in the Champions League meant anything, it is that the 32-time league winners are ready for this Derbi Madrileno at the Vicente Calderon. However, Atletico Madrid will not be whipping boys, and they will be extra motivated to claim a victory in front of their own fans, as a loss could prove to be deadly for Diego Simeone’s men.

The Visitors established themselves with an impressive Champions League win over Schalke in Gelsenkirchen in midweek continental action, with Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo each grabbing a brace. Speaking after the big win, Ronaldo was particularly vocal about his side’s display as he returned from a lengthy ban, and declared that his team are ready to put Atletico Madrid to the sword. 

“We are up for the derby, we are Real Madrid and we will give our best and try to win", commented the Portuguese.

Despite the fact that Atletico Madrid have won twice at the Santiago Bernabeu in the last twelve months, Real Madrid have dominated the Madrid derby in recent history, winning twelve out of the last fourteen games against Los Colchoneros in all competitions. Furthermore, their defence has been solid, keeping a clean sheet in six out of their last eight league outings.
 

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Recent form

Atletico Madrid:
Atletico Madrid 3-0 Real Valladolid (15/02; La Liga)
AC Milan 0-1 Atletico Madrid (19/02; Champions League)
Osasuna 3-0 Atletico Madrid (23/02; La Liga)

Real Madrid:
Getafe 0-3 Real Madrid (16/02; La Liga)
Real Madrid 3-0 Elche (22/02; La Liga)
Schalke 1-6 Real Madrid (26/02; Champions League)

Key absences

Atletico Madrid: Javier Manquillo; Tiago

Real Madrid: Sami Khedira

Players to watch

Atletico Madrid – Diego Costa: The Brazilian’s name came back to the limelight as he was recently called-up for the upcoming Spain friendly against Italy. Having missed the last duel with Real Madrid due to suspension, his personal battle with future international team-mate Sergio Ramos will be interesting.

Real Madrid – Cristiano Ronaldo: The former Sporting Lisbon starlet will be playing his first league game ever since being sent off against Athletic Bilbao. He was the main protagonist as his side thrashed Schalke, and will be looking for a repeat of the events against Atletico Madrid.

Match Prediction

Real Madrid are at a point where a win would be a severe blow for Atletico Madrid, but will certainly be facing a hostile crowd at the Vicente Calderon. The home side will want to avenge their recent losses in the derby, but Carlo Ancelotti’s men are playing champagne football at the moment. Expect them to edge their counterparts 3-2 in a very tight affair.

Betting on Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid? Make sure you read our betting preview first!
 

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