Real Madrid host Atletico Madrid in La Liga as they hope to grab their third win in all competitions in the space of one week.
Real Madrid entered a decisive couple of days after a big win over Borussia Monchengladbach on Wednesday and are out to repeat the feat against crosstown rivals Atletico Madrid in La Liga. Los Rojiblancos visit the Alfredo di Stefano Stadium on Saturday evening as they hope to continue being unbeaten in the Spanish top-flight.
Los Blancos were bolstered by the return of Sergio Ramos to the starting eleven in the Champions League and this weekend, they are able to welcome back Federico Valverde and Dani Carvajal from injuries. Besides Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic and Martin Odegaard, Zinedine Zidane has been able to call upon every other member of his squad.
Thibaut Courtois has now kept two clean sheets in a row but is yet to keep three on the bounce this season. The Belgium international will keep his place in goal against his former side without a worry of being dropped.
Dani Carvajal was part of the substitutes in the midweek game but did not feature. He will partner Ferland Mendy in the full-back positions. While Carvajal is an overall product and his attacking plays will come handy against a low block like Atleti’s, Mendy will play a key role in thwarting the visiting side’s counter-attacking prowess, especially through Marcos Llorente.
Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane will undoubtedly partner one another at the back. Both World Cup winning defenders have formed a formidable partnership in recent years, but that will be put to the test this weekend against the only unbeaten side in La Liga this season and against lethal frontmen like Joao Felix and Luis Suarez.
Casemiro has not looked his usual self lately but he performs when it matters most more often than not. The Brazilian will play as the defensive midfielder and will be crucial in mitigating Saul Niguez’s threats. Toni Kroos will play a key role with his pinpoint passing if Madrid successfully bypass their opponent’s midfield as will Luka Modric with his dribbling. Both in-form midfielders will start.
A slight lack of depth in the attacking third has left Zidane short on options, but with Marco Asensio yet to deliver, Vinicius Junior will get the nod on the left flank. The Brazilian’s pace and dribbling have helped Real Madrid beat stubborn defences in the past and he will be crucial, as will compatriot Rodrygo on the right, who is in a great run of form too.
Karim Benzema scored the winner the last time these two sides met in La Liga and will lead the line. The Frenchman will be handy with his presence in the box for Los Merengues and it’s imperative he plays more centrally this time around instead of drifting wide like he usually does. Who will bag the bragging rights on Saturday’s derby?