Benzema marks the difference in Madrid derby
Real Madrid 1-0 Atlético Madrid: as it happened
It needed a moment of magic and Ferland Mendy delivered it in the 56th minute, landing an inch-perfect cross on the boot of Karim Benzema who buried the only real chance he was presented all afternoon to break Atlético's resistance and hand Madrid a 1-0 win that sent Zinedine Zidane's side six points clear at the top of LaLiga pending Barcelona's result against Levante on Sunday.
Atlético were always going to struggle to mount a serious challenge without Joao Félix, Koke and Diego Costa available but the visitors can feel aggrieved after a decent penalty shout against Álvaro Morata was waved away and Ángel Correa slammed the foot of the post in an opening half that Diego Simeone's side won on points.
However, Real have made a habit this season of nicking important goals and Benzema, who had been marshalled expertly by the Atlético defence all afternoon, gleefully side-footed home after Mendy found that goldilocks zone between Jan Oblak and the nearest defender, Stefan Savic, to tee up the Frenchman for his 12th league goal of the season. Real had not beaten Atlético in the Bernabéu since 2012 in Liga action but took full advantage of a visiting side shorn of a creative spark to set that record straight on Saturday.
And that's it! Real sneak a 1-0 win in the Madrid derby, courtesy of Ferland Mendy's incredible cross and Karim Benzema's cool finish. It was hardly a classic but Real won't care as they go six points clear and avoid a slip-up in one of the toughest games they have remaining this season.
Reral pressing hard in the opposition half to keep Atlético pegged back. The visitors may have time for one more attack.....
Atlético feel they should have a corner, the ref signals for a goal kick. Two minutes added.
Last roll of the dice for Atlético now as they won a throw out on the left...
But he escapes censure and Casemiro gets his name taken down for protesting.
Felipe could be in a spot of bother here as Valverde goes down after a clumsy challenge from the Brazilian... he's already in the book.
Free kick to Real out on the right, Modric over it. He delivers into the area and Atlético get into a pickle trying to clear. They eventually do and Correa fould Mendy to prevent Real breaking after Casemiro beat Carrasco to a ball over the top.
Time running out for Atlético to salvage something from this...
Here's how the table looks as it stands...
Mendy goes in the book for a stamp on Vrsaljko, leading to a spot of handbags bewteen the two sides.
Another corner for Atlético, taken short, Benzema heads it behind for another corner...
Vinicius is played through by Benzema and carves out a shooting chance but hits it straight at Oblak. Bread and butter for the Atlético keeper.
Sime Vrsaljko in the book for clattering into the back of Vinicius.
Savic with an absolutely wonderful tackle to deny Valverde a run on goal, flying in from the side after a lung-bursting run to get a clean boot to the ball. He needed to be precise, that could just as easily have been a card.
Correa with a dreadful clearance and it falls to Modric, who has a pop from the edge of the area but pulls it wide.
Meanwhile, Mendy makes a right old mess of a shot and skies it high into the stands, to a collective groan from the Bernabéu.
And here comes Sergio Camello, the 18-year-old Atlético B striker.
Marcos Llorente brings down Ferland Mendy and Real come forward again...
Here comes Yannick Carrasco for his second Atlético debut, Vitolo the man to make way.
Both sides swap and cede possession and Thomas spots an opportunity for a piledriver but it doesn't bother Courtois.
Carvajal appeals for a corner after being sent over the hoardings by Felipe, who argues the ball was out. The lino is consulted and confirms the ball was in when the Atlético defender made contact.
Felipe goes in the book for a late challenge on Lucas Vázquez.
Vinicius is wearing pink boots we've just noticed... that's a bold statement. We were under the impression pink boots were reserved for seasoned internationals with a list of trophies as long as a German opera.
Vinicius! The Brazilian gets a shot off but Oblak is equal to it.
We reach the hour mark, the traditional preserve of the cunning substitution, but Simeone can be forgiven a little sigh of resignation when he looks at his. An 18-year-old forward is all he has beyond Ivan Saponjic, who has yet to make his Atlético debut.
That has certainly lobbed a spanner into Simeone's works... Atlético had looked impregnable until that breakthrough. Benzema applied the touch but it was really the ball from Mendy that made it possible. It needed to be perfect, taking Savic out of the game and keeping Oblak on his line, and it was.
Goooooooooooooool! Benzema! A pinpoint cross from Mendy and the Frenchman makes no mistake from a couple of yards out!
A bit of a lull in the game now as Real try and readjust after the double chance and Atlético reform in the absence of a recognised striker.
Vinicius gets into a tangle on the left but manages to get the ball out and Atlético make an uncustomary meal of hacking the ball clear.
One for the "dirty, dirty Atlético" brigade... Real 11 fouls, Atlético three.
Morata heading off for Thomas Lemar... we can only assume he's twanged something as he was a thorn in the Madrid side in the opening 45. The Frenchman has a chance to make some headlines now after falling out of favour at Atlético this season.
Valverde! The Uruguayan gets behind a blistering shot and draws an excellent save from Oblak! The Slovenian finally called into action!
And we're back underway!
And Lucas Vázquez is on, replacing Isco.
And indeed, Vinicius is on for Kroos... might be an injury there.
We'll see in a minute if there have been any changes.
It would be no surprise to see Real add some width to their side after the break with Lucas Vázquez and Vinicius both on the bench.
Karim Benzema has yet to muster a single shot, which is testament to Atleti's treatment of the Real striker this afternoon. Every tme he has been in a decent position, he has been ushered to the sides of the area where the visitors have then doubled up on the Frenchman. It's a fairly simple tactic, but by jove it's been effective. In the absence of support and additional movement from a second striker (despite Isco's best efforts) Benzema has been kept firmly under lock and key.
Atleti may feel they shuld be leading at the break and they have had the better of the chances. However, the final ball has occasionally been lacking and an overall pass success rate of 75 percent tells its own tale.
The Bernabéu held a minute's silence for Kobe Bryant before the game, after the former LA Lakers star was killed in a helicopter crash last weekend.
And that's the half! 0-0 it remains in the Bernabéu, and on the evidence of that 45 that may well remain the case. Still just the one shot on target, plus Correa's crack onto the post.
One minute... Oblak finally gets his hands on the ball from Modric's cross-shot, which couldn't have been more comfortable for the Slovenian.
Real confined to the middle of the park again as Atlético drop back in numbers. There won't be much added to the first 45.
Correa! He'd done all the hard work, breaking from just beyond the halfway line, but he pulls his shot wide with just Courtois to beat. He was right to aim for the far stick, but he was offside anyway it turns out. VAR would doubtless have pooped the Argentinean's party had he found the net.
Forty minutes in and Real have still not managed a shot on target. Atlético have been imperious in the air and there is no obvious way through on the deck either.
Real aim another ball towards the head of Isco, which as anybody who has ever seen the Real midfielder will know is not a particularly sound tactic.
One of the sub-narratives of the game so far has been the duel between Carvajal and Lodi, which the Atlético defender is currently just edging.
Correa takes but it's straight into the waiting paws of Courtois.
And it is sent into the area but Ramos is alert to the danger and nods it behind for a corner.
Atlético do get a free kick after Thomas is sent sprawling. It's out on the right and could be a contender for some mixer action...
Penalty shout! Morata goes down under a challenge from Casemiro after the Brazilian had nicked the ball off the striker's boot. Casemiro certainly had a chunk of shirt and fell into Morata's legs and all things considered that should probably have been awarded.
Another Atlético attack breaks down thanks to a loose pass. The visitors looking to take the tempo down a notch with a few ponderous balls.
Real's turn for a spot of keep ball now but Atlético nick it back. Lots of intent but not much execution in midfield at the moment.
Play resumes and Atlético look to get their foot on the ball for a spell. Carvajal is back on and fine to continue.
There we have confirmation of the situation present. Real with most of the ball, Atlético with most of the clear-cut chances.
Carvajal is down in agony after a challenge, clutching his ankle. Magic sponge time...
Varane doesn't score too many and that's why... the Frenchman's attempted shot turns out to be a nice little pass to Thomas, who says ta very much and clears.
Correa! The Argentinean has a real chance from close range but finds the foot of the post with a rasping shot. It wasa tight angle but another warning shot across the bow of Thibaut Courtois. Real are a little sloppy at the back at the moment and Atlético are managing to get in behind the Liga leaders
Real nudging 70 percent possession at the moment but the only stat that really matters - shots on goal - is 1-0 to Atlético. Jan Oblak has yet to make a save.
Real go side to side in an attempt to find a way through the red and white wall but are forced back. If there's one thing a Simeone side does well it's shut up shop. And given their attacking limitations at the moment that's a good thing for Atlético fans.
Mendy finds his way to the byline and lofts a ball back into the area but there are no white shirts in there and Savic hooks it clear.
Courtois! The Belgian earns his coin with a fine save from Vitolo! It was hit straight at the Real keeper in fairness but the trick in that save was parrying it to a degree of safety, Casemiro finishing the job by hoofing it out for a corner.
Morata lets a chance go begging as he dithers in the Real area, although he does pull off a nice backheel to Correa. Still, he should have at least tested Courtois there but seemed more interested in what, if anything, was coming up behind him.
Modric is run out on the right and Real have another throw. Isco sneaks in at the back post and the ball finds its way to Kroos, who blasts over from distance.
A reminder of how the table looks at the moment...
Chance! Atleti take advantage of a defensive error and ping the ball into the area, sowing panic in the Real back line. Casemiro appears from nowhere and hammers the ball clear.
Atlético attack down the left after Saúl got in behind Carvajal but despite three red and white shirts in the vicinity they conspire to hand Real a throw.
Another corner to Madrid and another Ramos miss. It's worked nicely to the unmarked captain by Kroos and Isco but he skews his shot well wide and looks remonstratively at the heavens. Good chance there, and you expect Simeone will have made a note of that little routine.
Morata sniffs an opening and pegs it towards a loose ball but Courtois had read the danger and beats him to it. More amusement from the stands as Morata claims he got a pop in the nose.
Atlético attempt to break through at the other end as Morata lays off for Saúl but the Spain internationals can't make it happen and Real mop up.
But Savic is up to clear. Real work the ball back into the area and Ramos has a chance to shoot but snatches at his first-time effort and plonks it over the bar.
Corner to Madrid...
Marcos Llorente gets a personal "welcome back" from Casemiro, who clatters into his former teammate with that cheeky "who, me?" smile of his.
A few jeers for former Real striker Morata as he chases down a ball with Valverde. Then a huge cheer as the Uruguayan plays it off the Spain forward for a goal kick.
It looks as though Simeone has instructed his side to keep it tighter than a duck's backside here today... Morata and Vitolo are the nominal front men but everybody else is dropping well back when Real have the ball.
Early pressure from Atlético, trying to pin Real back in their own half.
And we're off! Atlético get the ball rolling!
The players are out and there's a minute's silence for Kobe Bryant before we get underway.
The largest margin of victory at the Bernabéu in this fixture remains Real's 5-0 win from 1983-84, a repeat of their 1958-59 scoreline. Atlético have beaten Real 4-0 at the Bernabéu twice, and recorded a 6-3 victory back in 1950-51. We'd love to see the odds on that today...
The players have been going through their paces and we're about 10 minutes away from kick-off now...
How does Simeone go about this game today? It's a little excessive to say the Atlético coach is under pressure, but he could certainly do with a result after being dumped out of the Copa by third-tier Cultural Leonesa and losing 2-0 at Eibar, which was followed by an awful 0-0 draw at home with then-bottom of the table Leganés.
Zinedine Zidane discussed Gareth Bale's situation in his pre-match press conference and the futures of Mariano and Brahim, who seem to be completely out of the picture at the Bernabéu.
The last time Atlético played Real Madrid away the score was 7-3 to Simeone's side. That was a friendly in the ICC in New Jersey with Diego Costa bagging four. That won't happen today, we can pretty much guarantee.
Here's Raúl again, adding another contribution to Atlético's 14 years of hurt. That was the length of the capital city jinx that colchoneros endured before the arrival of Simeone at the Calderón.
Real Madrid are down as favourites for the win today with the camel coats but Zidane's side have hardly been scoring for fun this season. Four 0-0 draws and two 1-1s in the league so far this season and only 39 goals scored in 21 games. Atlético have drawn nine games this season and found the net just 22 times, an average of just over a goal a game. Both sides have the lowest goals against tallies in the division, Real conceding 13 and Atlético 14.
Since Real Madrid turned Atlético over 3-0 at the Calderón in November 2016 this fixture has ended in a draw on five occasions out of six games played. The only win for either side has been a 3-1 victory for Real last season at the Metropolitano. Atlético's last win was also in 2016, a 1-0 smash and grab at the Bernabéu. Antoine Griezmann scored the only goal of that game.
And here's Atlético's starting XI. Pretty solid looking at the back as you'd imagine, but there are not many goals in there. It isn't that ridiculous to suggest Real should be most worried about Thomas and his ballistic right boot.
Here's Madrid's starting XI... no real curve balls from Zidane but a rare start for Isco. That makes a lot of sense, Atlético may not score many but they concede few as well and a lock-picker is a better tool than a wide man in games like this, which is unlikely to be very open.
It's also worth noting that Atlético have not been beaten in the Bernabéu in Liga action since 2012, picking up three wins and three draws in six games since.
That said, the boy Camello has an eye for the onion bag: he scored on his debut senior appearance for Simeone's side at the end of last season. A hero from the bench perhaps?
And here's Atlético's list, with the inclusion of new/old arrival Yannick Carrasco and youth teamers Toni Moya and Sergio Camello.The issue facing Simeone at the moment after the collapse of Atlético's move for Edinson Cavani is laid bare when looking at that squad... there are not many goals in there and very little in the way of creativity in the absence of Koke and Joao Félix.
Here's Madrid's squad for the derby, with notable absence of Gareth Bale. Vinicius' turn in the Copa del Rey defat of Zaragoza earned the Brazilian another crack of the whip and he may well start given the surprise omission of Rodrygo and Bale being left out with Eden Hazard still not fit to play.
We've also thrown together a preview, a prediction of how the sides will line up in the Bernabéu and a few facts and figures ahead of today's game.
Wondering how you can watch today's game? The answer may well lie in here, our handy guide as to where the game is being shown and what time kick-off is around the world.
Hello and welcome to AS English's live coverage of the Madrid derby between Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid from the Santiago Bernabéu. Kick-off is at 16:00 CET.