The fourth Madrid derby of the season between the Spanish capital’s most storied sides will take place Saturday evening at the Vicente Calderón, when Atlético host cross-town rivals Real Madrid.
It will be an emotional day at the Colchonero stadium, as a special tribute will be paid to Atleti legend Adrián Escudero, who passed away at the age of 83 on 7 March. 40,000 fans will be given red and white cards to hold up before the game in honour of the club’s top goalscorer, and the players will be wearing a black bracelet in mourning of the icon’s death.
Despite Atlético’s extra motivation to get the result, Mourinho’s men will have no reason to believe they will lose at the Calderón. As we all know, it’s been over a decade since los Blancos last suffered defeat at the hands of los Rojiblancos, and Atleti’s record against Real in the 20 games since our last derby win is made up of six draws and 14 losses.
This will be our last chance to vanquish our foes this campaign, and Quique’s men will want to do everything in their power to avoid an embarrassing string of four losses in a single season to los Blancos.
Atletico striker Sergio Aguero, who was 11 years old and likely kicking a ball around the streets of his Villa Itali neighbourhood in Quilmes, Argentina whilst los Colchoneros celebrated their 3-1 triumph at the Bernabéu in 1999, told the club’s official site that “it doesn’t matter in what kind of form you go into a game like that; they’re always special matches for both teams. It’s going to be a tough match in which we’ll have to give our all on the pitch.”
Ignoring our recent history, ‘Kun’ assured “a derby is always different; you always experience it in
a different way. The stadium is going to be full and that’s a factor that will play in our favour.”
Other reasons for optimism aside from the support of the home fans, is that we have gone unbeaten our last five games and we had a full week to prepare for the clash, whilst Real had mid-week Champions League business to take care of.
Quique told MARCA “we are coming into this derby at our best moment of the season.”
“Of all the times we have faced off against Real Madrid, this is the clash that we come into with the most joy, with better performances and more security,” he said. “We can complete the circle we started last year by beating our eternal rivals.”
The Merengues will arrive confidently, having made it through to the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in seven seasons with a 3-0 drubbing of Lyon on Wednesday, days after easily handling Hércules at home in league play without star forward Cristiano Ronaldo.
Real will be looking to extend their dominance over their neighbours and end the week a perfect three for three, keeping their league title hopes alive.
French striker Karim Benzema, who took his season goal total up to 20 after netting against his former team on Wednesday, told Onda Cero he wants to “play and score [against Atlético]” and warned that his side will have to keep a close eye on Atleti’s attack duo Diego Forlán and Kun Aguero.
“They are very dangerous forwards but we are going to Atletico to win this important match.”
Sanchez Flores will have all his weapons at his disposal, and could repeat the line-up rolled out against Villarreal a fortnight ago that made us all smile again. The coach called up the whole squad for the derby, claiming that all of his players “want to be there for this one.” Let’s hope Quique’s right, and that this dark chapter in Atlético history finally comes to a close.
Atlético match selection:
Goalkeepers: De Gea, Joel
Defenders: Valera, Antonio López, Filipe Luis, Godín, Ujfalusi, Domínguez, Perea
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Tiago, Raúl García, Elías, Fran Mérida, Paulo Assunção, Reyes, Juanfran, Koke
Forwards: Forlán, Agüero and Diego Costa
Referee: Fernando Teixeira Vitienes
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