Match Preview: Real Madrid vs Atlético Madrid – 2021/22
Día del Derbi. The city of Madrid splits into two as Atleti visit Real. Diego Simeone’s men have made clear their intentions of defending the title, but the output on the pitch remains an embodiment of mediocrity. Ancelotti’s Madrid side have raced to 8 points clear at the top, 10 clear of their cross city rivals.
The league table is beginning to take shape but these games set themselves apart from the rest. What has happened up until now and what happens beyond this does not matter. The essence of a derby is a different ambience altogether. For those involved, a chance at winning against their cross city rival’s is different from other games and to actually do it, is an indescribable feeling.
What to Expect:
Diego Simeone’s Colchoneros were playing a different brand of football last season. The Argentine coach stuck to his basics of solidity, unity and compactness but the team were clearly more aggressive and with the addition of new personnel, were playing some ruthless football.
The switch in emphasis to a more balanced approach and the obvious edge in quality that players like Jan Oblak and Luis Suarez provided empowered them to win the league. This season however, Atleti have been visibly less decisive on both ends of the pitch. The defence often looks patchy and the attack endures spells of inactivity despite the return of Antoine Griezmann.
Atleti’s play switches between a 3-5-2 and a lopsided 4-4-2. On paper, it is their midfield that is the clear disconnect in quality. While it is true that Simeone’s midfield players need to be aggressive warriors in defence and strong distributors in transition, that’s been far from where their problems lie.
At times this season, Atleti have looked solid and that’s when they’ve gone back to the basics, and approached games in a more simplistic manner. Tonight though, Real Madrid are clear favourites. The home advantage, combined with the intensity they’ve maintained from back to front points to just one thing — Real taking the game to Atleti.
The visitors came off worse from the month of November and haven’t begun December in the most encouraging way. Sime Vrsaljko and Stefan Savić have been Simeone’s strongest pillars in defence these past two seasons but both remain out. Up front, Luis Suarez’s is deemed fit enough to make the squad list.
Both Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale will return for the match, Ancelotti confirmed. Real Madrid’s woes are far off the injury list at the moment. With Luka Jović and Marco Asensio shining in midweek, the whites shouldn’t have many issues even if Benzema and Bale don’t make it to the starting eleven. No rotations for Ancelotti, just how he likes it. Ceballos is the only player not fit enough to make the squad list.
📄 Squad list for Sunday’s match against Atlético Madrid. VAMOS 💪
Players NOT called up: Ceballos. pic.twitter.com/EGBPzyyxFh
— Real Madrid News (@onlyrmcfnews) December 11, 2021
Carvajal — Militão — Alaba — Mendy
Modrić — Casemiro — Kroos
Bale —Benzema — Vini jr.
Llorente — Giménez — Filipe — Hermoso
Correa — Koke — Rodrigo — Carrasco
Cunha — Griezmann
Player to Watch:
Real Madrid: Karim Benzema. That wasn’t very long was it? A lot of fans must like Luka Jovic after his impressive display in midweek and most might have the Serbian leading the line tonight. As encouraging as that sounds, it’s got to be Benzema. Nueve is fit and ready to go, he’s just the man to turn to in a game as big as this.
Atlético Madrid: Antoine Griezmann. Been there, done that. Griezmann was the man to keep an eye on in derby games. Visiting the Wanda Metropolitano/Vicente Calderón was a deal more complicated when Atlético’s then #7 was in blazing form. The Frenchman hasn’t been in his best shape this campaign but expect him to be their most menacing player up front.
Real Madrid 2-1 Atlético Madrid.
It doesn’t quite sit right with Atlético to come to the Bernabéu to dominate the hosts. They may have their moments in the game and other periods of sustained pressure on the break, but wearing off Ancelotti’s men before retaliating would be the clever thing to do. High stakes for Simeone’s team, a loss would diminish any realistic chances at leapfrogging their rivals in the league.