The Madrid derby between Real and Atletico will see the two bookmakers’ favorites in La Liga meet for the first time this season. It’s a battle with title implications between the current leaders (Real Madrid) hosting the defending champions (Atletico Madrid).
Atletico needs a positive result to keep the Colchoneros close and potentially blow the race for first place wide open. Another Real Madrid win would virtually eliminate Atletico from contention, barring a second-half miracle run.
Real Madrid (1st, 39 points) has won its last nine matches in all competitions and has enjoyed a solid first half of the season in the return of Carlo Ancelotti at the helm. The Italian manager has guided Los Merengues to 12 wins in their first 16 La Liga matches with just one loss in that span to Espanyol. A major factor in that run has been the play of Brazilian forward Vinicius Jr. (10 goals), who is experiencing a breakout in his fourth season at the club and has helped decide several of those matches.
It’s been more of an uneven start to the season for Atletico (4th, 29 points), especially compared to its championship season in 2020-21 when it had 12 wins after 15 matches. This season the record reads 8W-2L-5D as the team struggles for consistency. Qualification to the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 with a thrilling road win earlier this week could help get the team back on track in La Liga, where it still has a game in hand on its rivals.
How to watch Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid
The first Madrid derby of the season is exclusively available to stream on ESPN+ for fans in the USA.
La Liga is available on TSN and RDS in Canada. Sunday’s Madrid derby will be streamed in English on TSN.ca and the TSN app. French-language coverage can be found on the RDS counterpart channels (RDS.ca and RDS app).
Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid lineups
The pregame chatter with Real Madrid revolves around La Liga scoring leader Karim Benzema (hamstring) and whether he starts the match or comes off the bench. But Ancelotti has already said he will play, and it’s hard to see him using Benzema as a sub if he’s available, no matter the recent positive contributions of his replacement Luka Jovic. The other lineup question involves Marco Asensio and Rodrygo battling it out for the right wing spot.
Real Madrid projected starting lineup (4-3-3, left to right): 1-Thibaut Courtois-GK — 23-Ferlan Mendy, 4-David Alaba, 3-Eder Militao, 2-Dani Carvajal — 8-Toni Kroos, 14-Casemiro, 10-Luka Modric — 20-Vinicius Jr., 9-Karim Benzema (capt.), 11-Marco Asensio
Real Madrid projected subs (12): 13-Andriy Lunin (GK), 12-Marcelo (LB), 6-Nacho Fernandez (CB), 5-Jesus Vallejo (CB), 25-Eduardo Camavinga (CM), 15-Federico Valverde (CM), 22-Isco (CAM), 17-Lucas Vazquez (RW), 21-Rodrygo (RW), 7-Eden Hazard (LW), 24-Mariano Diaz (CF), 16-Luka Jovic (CF)
Spanish media is reporting that Atletico Madrid forward Luis Suarez is available for the derby despite having to be subbed out in midweek due to a muscle issue that had him in tears as he left the field. Matheus Cunha could get the start again if Suarez is on limited minutes.
Center backs Stefan Savic, Jose Maria Gimenez, and right back Sime Vrsaljko are out for Atletico, but the Colchoneros at least can count on versatile defender Kieran Trippier, who will be part of the squad.
Atletico Madrid projected starting lineup (5-3-2, left to right): 13-Jan Oblak-GK (captain) — 21-Yannick Carrasco, 22-Mario Hermoso, 18-Felipe, 4-Geoffrey Kondogbia, 14-Marcos Llorente — 11-Thomas Lemar, 6-Koke, 5-Rodrigo De Paul — 8-Antoine Griezmann, 19-Matheus Cunha
Atletico Madrid projected subs (9): 1-Benjamin Lecomte (GK), 23-Kieran Trippier (RB / LB), 12-Renan Lodi (LB), 47-Ibrahima Camara (CB), 16-Hector Herrera (CM), 26-Javi Serrano (CM), 7-Joao Felix (CAM), 10-Angel Correa (FW), 9-Luis Suarez (FW)
Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid betting odds & prediction
Odds courtesy of DraftKings
The fitness questions for star forwards Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) and Luis Suarez (Atletico Madrid), and the fact that both teams played competitive Champions League midweek matches will all definitely influence how this game plays out.
Atletico Madrid is a team that’s especially reliant on its intensity and energy for its success, and the trip to Porto for that hard-fought and emotionally draining Champions League victory may have taken a lot out of them. But it’s a derby that Atletico can’t afford to lose, so the competitive juices should be flowing for Diego Simeone’s side.
The defending La Liga champs also have a strong record away from home in La Liga this season (4W-1L-2D), compiling a positive xG difference (+3.1). They won the xG battle in five of those seven road matches.
Though Real Madrid has won nine straight in all competitions, it has had its issues playing against teams like Atletico that employ a 5-man backline: Real was held under a 1.0 xG against Inter Milan in a midweek win, as well as against Osasuna in a 0-0 home draw. And it didn’t win the xG battle in any of the three matches played against teams in the 5-3-2 formation, per FBref. This should be a game in which Atletico Madrid can stay close, if not win outright.
Pick: Atletico Madrid +0.75 Asian Handicap (-155)
Prediction: Real Madrid 1, Atletico Madrid 1
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