Madrid Derby: Stakes are high for Atletico

Carlo Ancelotti, manager of Real Madrid.

The Madrid Derby is always a must-win game for both teams. However, this Sunday the stakes are high for Atletico Madrid who host crosstown rivals Real Madrid at the Wandametropolitano on Sunday evening. Real’s injury issues in key areas mean this could be Atletico’s best chance to pick up a much-needed win in the Madrid derby.

Atletico Madrid have begun the season in relatively slow fashion, currently five points behind their weekend’s opponents, who sit top of La Liga. Los Colchoneros also suffered defeat this week at the hands of Bayer Leverkusen in the UEFA Champions league.

Despite the loss to the German side, Atletico should be fairly confident heading into Sunday’s clash as Real Madrid’s main man Karim Benzema is a major doubt with an injury sustained in their UCL victory over Celtic last week.

Real Madrid go into the derby as the only team in Europe to win all of their games thus far into the new season. Although they struggled throughout large parts of the game, Los Blancos pulled through with a 2-0 win over RB Leipzig in the UCL on Wednesday night. In the last 52 meetings between the Clubs, Real have come on top in 25 of them, with Atletico winning just 11. Diego Simeone’s men will need to improve on their results against their rivals on their own patch, winning just 5 of the previous 23 played at home.

Diego Simeone manager of Atletico Madrid.
Diego Simeone, manager of Atletico Madrid.

Atletico will feel as if Sunday’s fixture is a must-win. Or at least a must-not-lose game. Three points for Real Madrid will increase the gap between the Clubs to eight points, effectively ruling Atletico out of the title race in mid-September.

Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid Prediction

Atletico Madrid 1 – 2 Real Madrid

Despite Benzema’s absence, Real’s attacking threat may still prove to be too much for Atletico to handle, especially since Simeone’s men do not look as defensively sound as we’ve become accustomed to. Vinicius Jr will look to carry the mantle in Benzema’s absence as the Brazilian has started the new campaign the same way he ended last: on fire.

However, Real also have defensive issues, conceding too many easy opportunities in their game against Leipzig during the week. Therefore, the midfield will be the area in which the game is decided. Real did really well to replace Casemiro with Aurelien Tchouameni, who has taken to life in Madrid like a duck to water. Los Blancos’ midfield depth, as well as its youthfulness in Camavinga, Tchouameni and Valverde, is likely to prove too much for Atletico, who could see their title ambitions shattered after six gameweeks.