Match preview: Atlético vs. Real Madrid

The first derby of the season comes after two losses for Atleti

Saúl enjoyed a fantastic game against Real Madrid last season

Saúl enjoyed a fantastic game against Real Madrid last season

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.

  • Sani

    Real will sink Atleti his time.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    If you are an Atleti fan, I think you should have put it in a more pleasant way .
    Maybe many people don’t see any problem, and maybe I’m being very sensitive, but I find your comment, as short as it is, offensive .

    If you are a Madridista, then this actually make me happy, few years ago none of you would have visited and commented on an Atletico fans site .
    You are hurt .. badly .

  • Dircil

    I have a good feeling about today match. Barca and Chelsea slumped yesterday so why not Real. Aupa Atleti!!!

  • AlPacino

    Due to recent results, I would be satisfied with a tie. But Simeone have surprised me before(UCL vs Barca, I thought we lose for sure). With Simeone anything is possible.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    So glad that Simeone addressed our tough schedule as many of us did here (it’s like he is reading our comments like Jeronamo said) .
    People should never forget the tough schedule, we did lose against Barca, Villarreal and Real Madrid last season, and we eventually achieved our objectives .
    It won’t be a crisis if we lost the 3rd consecutive game tonight, because they weren’t against Malaga, Espanyol & Betis, but against strong opponents, maybe the one most difficult to accept is Benfica’s, but I think we played a better game than some of the ones we won, like Getafe & Las Plamas .

    A defeat won’t be a big problem, but a win will give us a huge boost .
    I would take a draw any time, but what I would never accept is benching Correa,
    I wish Simeone was just refusing to give up his line-up, because even just thinking between Correa & Carrasco is a big mistake .
    Some days ago I said that there are 3 players who should start each and every game, Oblak, Oliver & Griezmann, now I add Correa to them, Godin can be replaced by Savic, who can also replace Juanfran on the right, Siqueira & Filipe are at the same level, although I prefer the first, Carrasco & Saul can do Koke’s job, out wide or in the center respectively, Torres and Jackson are almost at the same level until the Colombian proves otherwise .
    Simeone can change and rotate between those players as he wants, but I think he should never touch the first 4 .

  • Abdil Egriøz

    See you after tonight’s match…

  • Chewie

    I just looked up when was the last time we lost three games in a row. Guess what, it was two years ago with two defeats to Real in the Cup and one to Almeria. But what’s more interesting is the way we lost two consecutive games. It didn’t happen last season and the one before that (except the three losses I’ve mentioned). Three years ago we lost to Valencia and then… Academica. Then we lost to Real and… Victoria Plzen, then to Rayo and Rubin. How about Betis and Albacete in 2011/12?

    I’m saying that losing to a team that currently is leading the table and to the current Portugese champion is not a big deal if you put things in perspective. Real is always a tough opponent so I too will be satisfied with a draw. To me, it’s a 50/50 chance which makes the game interesting in not exactly a good way.

    Agree that Correa should join the starting trio, he is on the high-speed train to the top, and he’s already proven his worth.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    So the only time we lost 3 games in a row with Simeone was in the year we won La Liga and reached UCL final … one more reason to not panic if we lost tonight !

  • Ringo

    Maybe we should start with Correa, Griezmann and Vietto/Carrasco up front, for more mobility up top. Otherwise I would pick Torres for this game. But I’d like to see the mobile three with Óliver behind them throwing numerous passes in their direction. Two of Saúl, Tiago and Gabi completing the midfield. I’d pick Saúl and Gabi for the day.
    In the back I’d pick our regular four (five if you add Oblak). Hoping they’ve all improved over wednesday.

    This will be a tough game, probably. I hope the team does well, but not much more could be said about it for now.
    A draw would be okay, but, obviously, I’d prefer a win!

    In any case, AUPA ATLETI
    make us proud, lads

  • Chewie