It only happens once a season, although you could be forgiven for thinking these meetings are a lot more frequent after the amount of times the two clubs faced each other last year.
Yet on Sunday evening at 20:30, Atlético Madrid welcome their arch rivals Real to the Vicente Calderón for the home league derby – the first since one of the best Atlético matches I’ve ever seen – last season’s 4-0 hammering in February.
A lot has changed since then.
At this point last season, Atlético had already faced their neighbours three times, picking up two victories and the Spanish Super Cup at Real Madrid’s expense.
An exodus of players from the Calderón over the summer means it will be a different side that lines up to battle in the derby.
Oblak will continue in goal ahead of Moyá, whilst both Arda Turan and Mandzukic have moved on.
If Simeone’s men are to repeat last season’s feat, they will again have to do so without the influence of Koke, who is still out with a hamstring injury.
The young Spaniard missed most of last season’s fixture, after being forced off in the 9th minute. He was replaced by Saúl, who came on and scored THAT goal.
However Atleti go into this match on the back of two defeats, following disappointing matches against Villarreal and then Benfica.
“The truth is that what is happening to us does not surprise me at all,” Simeone told the media at his pre-match press conference.
“We knew that the first ten rounds of the league would be very complicated, because we have to face tough, difficult teams. We also had many important away matches, and faced some big teams at home.”
“We have many young guys too, which we have introduce into the team. It’s been tough to build the consistency that we need.”
Atlético faced criticism after Wednesday’s game with Benfica for failing to take advantage of the number of chances they created. New-boy Jackson Martínez in particular was singled out.
“We’ve been working in 2 systems,” Simeone continued. “4-4-2 and 4-3-3.”
“We have played many matches with three strikers. It’s clear that we have players that can play in this system. There is Correa, Carrasco and Griezmann who can do it easily.”
“I liked it the other day against Benfica and that’s how we’ll probably start tomorrow.”
Atlético will be attacking a Real Madrid defence without Pepe who is still injured, but Sergio Ramos has been passed fit and will play.
Gareth Bale has also returned to training with the team and is available for selection, confirmed new Real Madrid coach Rafa Benitez.
It’s the first time Simeone will play a team managed by Benitez. Although Atleti have a enjoyed success against teams managed by the ex-Inter manager, including the 2010 UEFA Super Cup final.
Let’s hope for another big reason to celebrate tomorrow.
Atlético squad list:
Goalkeepers: Moyá and Oblak.
Defenders: Godín, Filipe Luis, Siqueira, Savic, Juanfran and Giménez.
Midfielders: Tiago, Óliver, Gabi, Saúl and Carrasco.
Forwards: Griezmann, Fernando Torres, Jackson Martínez, Correa and Vietto.