Real Madrid vs Atletico: injuries, suspensions and possible line-ups
Karim Benzema gave Carlo Ancelotti a boost as he trained before the Madrid derby, but Diego Simeone has some serious issues in defence.
Real Madrid host Atlético at the Bernabéu in a crucial derby fixture on Sunday with Carlo Ancelotti’s side looking to extend their eight-point lead at the top of the table against a direct rival in the 2021-22 Liga title. Madrid have won their last six in the league and are on a run of nine straight victories in all competition, while Atleti have been struggling, sneaking through in the Champions League with the type of last-ditch Diego Simeone-inspired performance that has previously characterized the Argentinean’s reign but has been oddly lacking this season.
Since beating Barcelona 2-0 at the Metropolitano at the beginning of October, Atleti have won only three of seven and were beaten last time by Mallorca at home, as the defensive issues that have dogged Simeone’s side this campaign were laid bare.
The Atlético coach will have to summon all of his voodoo on Sunday to prevent Madrid from making it 10 wins in a row and moving 13 points clear of his reigning champions, in a game US subscribers can stream live on ESPN+. The Argentinean has a depleted defence and while his side have been scoring freely, they have been far too acquiescent at the back, managing only five clean sheets this season to confine Jan Oblak to his personal Room 101.
Ancelotti has settled on a regular starting XI and rarely bothers to rotate, a system backed by his side’s run of results. When all of his players are fit the starting side picks itself, with the only question mark generally being which one of Marco Asensio or Rodrygo will provide support in attack for Karim Benzema and Vinícius.
Real Madrid team news
Ancelotti will wait until the 11th hour to make a decision on Benzema, who picked up a muscle injury during the victory over Real Sociedad and missed the Champions League game against Inter in midweek. The France striker is the top scorer in LaLiga with 12 goals and has bagged 17 goals and eight assists in all competitions this season.
Luka Jovic proved his mettle as Benzema’s back-up in the La Real game with a goal and an assist but was shackled by Inter in midweek and it remains to be seen what Ancelotti will decide to do if Benzema is unavailable. Otherwise, the Italian schemer will have a full squad to choose from with Gareth Bale back in contention and only Dani Ceballos due to miss out.
Atlético Madrid team news
Simeone will have to improvise in the Bernabéu with José María Giménez feeling his way back from injury and Stefan Savic, Kieran Trippier and Sime Vrsaljko all out. The Atleti boss may choose to revert to a back three with Geoffrey Kondogbia as a makeshift central defender and deploy Marcus Llorente and Yannick Carrasco as wing backs. Felipe returns after suspension ruled him out of the Porto game and Mario Hermoso is available to plug one of the various holes at the back.
Up front, Simeone will also wait for a late fitness test to decide if Luis Suárez will play, with Matheus Cunha ready to step in if the Uruguayan misses out.
Real Madrid vs Atlético: recent derby form
Simeone will always hold a place in Atleti folklore as the manager who put an end to 14 years of hurt, but his derby aura has waned somewhat in recent seasons. Super Cups and friendlies aside, Atleti have not beaten Madrid since 2017 in the Champions League semi-finals, a result that Madrid overturned with a 3-0 win in the second leg. In league action, it has been five years since the red and white half of Madrid claimed bragging rights, in a 1-0 win at the Bernabéu. Since then, there have been six draws and three Madrid wins in the capital city derby and only twice in that run of results have more than two goals been scored.
Real Madrid: possible derby line-up
Courtois; Carvajal, Militão, Mendy; Casemiro, Kroos, Modric; Asensio, Vinicíus, Benzema/Jovic.
Atlético Madrid: possible derby line-up
Oblak; Felipe, Kondogbia, Hermoso; Llorente, Lemar, Koke, De Paul, Carrasco; Griezmann, Cunha.