Madrid Derby: Injured and suspended players for Atlético - Real Madrid
Karim Benzema is expected to miss the Madrid derby through injury but Diego Simeone also has some problems to solve in the Atlético defence.
Atlético Madrid host Real Madrid on Sunday in El Derbí, the 171st Liga meeting between the sides since the first capital city match-up in 1928-29. Madrid have made a perfect start under Carlo Ancelotti this season, winning five of five in LaLiga to sit top of the standings, two points ahead of Barcelona. Atlético have blown hot and cold, putting four past Celta Vigo last week but then losing away at Leverkusen in the Champions League and Diego Simeone’s side are seventh having lost one and drawn one domestically.
Historically, Madrid have had the better of things against Atlético, winning 90 of the Liga meetings between the sides down the years – supporters of the red and white half of Madrid will be only too aware of the 14-year derby drought suffered by their side between the 1999-2000 and 2013-24 seasons. It was the arrival of Simeone that snapped that dreadful run and once the curse had been lifted, the Argentinean embarked on a seven-game unbeaten streak against Madrid including four victories. Atlético have won 40 Liga derbies in total, Simeone having overseen five of those, with the other 40 ending in draws. Having failed to beat Madrid in 12 attempts going into the most recent fixture, Atlético won the second derby of last season 1-0 to bring an end to another barren run during which Madrid scored five victories.
This time around, Madrid will go into the game as favourites but they will be missing their key player, Karim Benzema, which will level the playing field a little. However, Atlético are also without their first-choice keeper, Jan Oblak, who missed the game against Celta and Leverkusen, as well as José María Giménez and Stefan Savic, two key defenders in Simeone’s system. None of the three are expected to play any part against Madrid with Ivo Grbic again deputizing for Oblak and the possible deployment of versatile midfidler Alex Witsel to cover in defence.
Atlético vs Real Madrid: injuries and suspensions
In addition to the three members of his back line, Simeone is likely to have to contend without Thomas Lemar and Sergio Reguilón, the former Madrid left back who is spending the season on loan at the Metropolitano from Tottenham to add to a growing list of former Bernabéu graduates at the club, along with Álvaro Morata, Mario Hermoso and Marcos Llorente.
For Ancelotti, the loss of Benzema for such a key game is an issue. The Madrid striker has been diagnosed by the club as having an injury to the semitendinosus tendon and a strain to the quadricep muscle in his right thigh and was absent for the games against Mallorca and RB Leipzig. Ancelotti’s side won both of those, scoring six and conceding once, with the Italian using Eden Hazard for the Liga game and Rodrygo for the Champions League match in place of Benzema.
The Frenchman has hardly been prolific against Atlético in LaLiga, scoring six times in 24 games to date, but his unmatched ability to pull defences apart and bring his teammates into play will be a big miss for Madrid: it is no coincidence the champions have only lost four of those 24 fixtures in which Benzema has participated.
Atlético vs Real Madrid: predicted line-ups
Atlético: Grbic; Reinildo, Witsel, Hermoso; Saúl, De Paul, Llorente, Koke; Correa, João Félix, Morata.
Real Madrid: Courtois; Carvajal, Rüdiger, Alaba, Mendy; Tchouaméni, Kroos, Modric; Valverde, Hazard, Vinicius.