It may be placed in a round of midweek fixtures, but that takes none of the shine off the Madrid Derby taking place on Wednesday. The game, held at the Vicente Calderón, is the pick of round 33 in La Liga.
Atlético Madrid host their glamorous neighbours Real Madrid at the Calderón, and are once again looking to break one of the greatest curses in Spanish football. It has been 13 years since Atleti last triumphed in the derby, and the task facing them here is as huge as ever.
Since the arrival of Diego Simeone as coach of Atleti we have seen Los Colchoneros take on a new aggressive, focused and determined style. It has in some regards prospered, with the fans finally able to view an Atleti team they desired, embodying the characteristics of Simeone as a player. In other respects though, they have looked spent in terms of attacking ideas, lacking cut and thrust in the final third. This was prevalent at the weekend, as they went down 2-0 to a clever Levante. Atleti will be charged up for this one though, and will go all out to stop Real Madrid. You can expect a few cards to be handed out, particularly for the hosts. Álvaro Domínguez at 2.60, and Filipe Luís at 3.20 could both find themselves in the book once Real Madrid’s attack begins to flow.
The big news for Atleti is that they’ll have Colombian striker Radamel Falcao returning. He made a late substitute appearance in the Levante defeat, making a difference instantly, and he’ll be hungry for more goals here. He’s a threat with both his feet and head in the penalty area, but at 6.50 to score a headed goal, is good value.
Miranda is suspended through a red card received, and will be a serious miss in central defence. Eduardo Salvio and Mario Suárez are also suspended.
Real Madrid felt the pressure from Barcelona on Sunday evening, and slipped up at their Bernabéu home to draw 0-0 with Valencia. José Mourinho’s men had plenty of chances, but were stalled by poor finishing, an inspirational goalkeeping performance and a resilient Valencia. It makes the short trip across the city to Atleti all the more intriguing.
The players will have Mourinho’s words ringing in their ears, and another wasteful night in front of goal will not be acceptable. Karim Benzema will be the man leading the attack, and can be found at 2.30 to score anytime: 6.00 If you fancy him to start the scoring.
Coming into the game, there are huge positives for Real Madrid. Ángel Di Maria made his return from injury against Valencia, and looked lively as ever. His energy in attack has been missed, despite the team’s good form. He’s a different option to Gonzalo Higuaín, who was taken off at half-time at the weekend. Also returning, is Sergio Ramos. The Spanish international has been a colossal presence in defence this season and along with Pepe forms a solid central defensive partnership. With 10 goals conceded, Madrid can claim to have the best defensive record away from home in the league.
It’s going to be an intriguing game on many levels, given Atleti’s strong home record, including winning their last 3 games while keeping 4 clean sheets in the last 6. Taking that into account, 3.35 for 0-0 at half-time could be worth a look. Real Madrid meanwhile, have a trophy to think about and are no pushovers away from home. They’ve won 11 of their last 12 away games, and have scored 40 goals in total while on their travels in the league. It’s going to be a game built on tension, and the main focus will be on the defences. However, history tells us the entire story of this game, and the present situation only contributes further to the likely outcome - a Real Madrid victory. 1-2 and 0-1 are both well valued at 8.25 and 9.75 respectively.
BEST BET: Gabi, a breaker up of play in midfield, has 11 yellow cards this season, and at 2.05 he’s a sure thing for the book.