The Madrid derby: how both sides have changed since Milan
Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid face off this Saturday for the first time since the Champions League Final in Milan last May. Almost six months later we examine in what ways both sides have changed.
The game between Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid on Saturday will be the first Madrid derby since the Champions League Final in Milan on 28 May 2016, which ended with Los Blancos winning the Undécima after a dramatic penalty shootout. Almost six month after, we analyse how both teams have changed since that night.
Four new summer signings have strengthened the squad for the 2016/17 LaLiga campaign. Simeone added a new play to each positional line, Moreira (keeper), Vrsaljko (defender), Gaitán (midfielder) and Gameiro (forward). Out of those however only the French striker is a regular starter, with others in search of minutes to varying degrees of luck. Moreira has yet to make his debut, Vrsaljko has only played 180 minutes and Gaitán is currently losing the battle for a starting berth to the in-form Carrasco. Those are the names that have changed, but Diego Simone has also altered the team’s style (which the Argentinean has so far been reluctant to address). The re-positioning of Koke in centre midfield has resulted in a more attacking Atleti – one which has more desire to make things happen rather than depending on their rivals’ errors. This modification has seen more goals arrive, like in the wins versus Celta (0-4), Sporting (5-0) and Granada (7-1), although, on the flip side, it has also led to greater fragility at the back (Atleti have conceded six in the last four games).
Changes at the Bernabéu have been much more on the light side. Real Madrid recalled Coentrao and Asensio from their respective loan spells, promoted Mariano from the reserves, and rebought Morata for €30m from Juventus. At the moment, none of these new faces have been able to secure a regular starting spot. Although Morata had been knocking the door with his performances (he’s currently the squad’s highest goalscorer despite making most of his appearances from the bench), he won’t be able to play in the derby due to injury. The only other major difference this season is that Zidane was able to start the campaign as coach after replacing Rafa Benitez in January. At the moment, the side are much more convincing in results than performances, especially owing to the fact that the biggest revelation under Zidane, linchpin Casemiro, has fallen injured, leading to greater vulnerability at the back and less balance in midfield.
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