Wednesday, the 22nd of April will see the two big clubs play it out against each other in the Madrid derby, where Real Madrid play against Atletico Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeau in the Champions League. They have always been close competitors, and after Diego Simeone, even more so. This match promises to be no different. But can Real Madrid cope and compensate for their loss of critical players before the derby?
Their typical frontline would be missing, as Benzema and Bale are both ruled out due to injury. The former has an ankle injury, whereas the latter has to account for a calf problem. Other injuries include the likes of Modric and Marcelo. With Ronaldo, Chircharito and Jese Rodriguez as the only fit forward lefts, it’s not an easy task going past the strong defensive backline of Atletico Madrid. Adding this to the fact that their initial game at Vincente Caledron ended at a 0-0 stalemate, even a single goal can put Real Madrid in a sticky situation.
Real Madrid manager, Carlos Ancelloti is adamant that he won’t change his formation and believes that he has the best squad in the world, capable of defeating their opponents. Cristiano Ronaldo would have to play at almost a hero status, without the likes of his regular co-stars supporting him. On the other hand, this can be a huge chance for the younger players to show their brilliance. It would be interesting to see whether Toni Kroos plays an advanced role, filling in for Modric, or he stays put. Changes in the attacking line-up can either introduce Javier Hernandez for Benzema or pushing Cristiano up front, making space for Jese Rodriguez. Khedira has to battle his own bad bout of form, whereas Coentrao, who’ll most probably be replacing Marcelo hasn’t played enough to be judged.
Atletico Madrid on the other hand are without Mario Suarez as he is suspended, so Gabi will play alongside Tiago in the defensive part of their midfield. Diego Simeone believes Mario Mandzukic would be back from his injury, so that’s an added bonus for them. Griezmann has had an amazing season yet, carrying his team alone on many occasions.
This game is hard to predict, and can sway either way depending on in-game and referee decisions. Atletico have their hard and strong defence along with their sharp counter attack to support them, while Real Madrid have a plain home advantage. A simple prediction could be a Los Blancos win, but a single Atletico goal can switch the tale.