Had you suggested during the summer that the gap between Madrid's two largest clubs would have been eight points after 13 games, it would have surprised very few. The fact that it's Atletico ahead with the champions in the rear view mirror is nothing short of a minor miracle. A win at the Bernabéu would remove any doubt that this team can be credible title challengers.
José Mourinho is offering mixed messages in his press conferences once again. No stone has been left unturned this year as everyone and everything has received blame at one moment or another. "I try to be fair and when my team lose, I don't look for excuses," Mourinho concluded before beginning his list of excuses: "It's obvious that if you play on Wednesday, you shouldn't play today. It's obvious that other teams have more control over the calendar than we do, but we are speaking about professionals at the highest level. They have to draw on their mental strength, ambition and spirit of sacrifice." The opinion columns within the Madrid newspapers are becoming overly critical of the Portuguese coach - that can only happen if president Florentino Perez gives the go ahead.
Real Madrid are likely to keep the same team which lost in Seville, with a decision over Mesut Özil and Luka Modric to be made. Mystery surrounds Michael Essien after he supposedly returned to Chelsea for treatment on an injury. Assistant manager Aitor Karanka offered a different version of events, claiming the midfielder is suffering from an allergic reaction.
Cristian Rodríguez is the only doubt for Diego Simeone's side, while Adrián López is falling down the pecking order. The returning Diego Costa should get the nod in attack. Thibaut Courtois was back in training on Thursday, giving his side a timely boost: the Belgian youngster missed the midweek cup tie after suffering flu-like symptoms.
Beñat Etxebarria gave Real Betis a surprise 1-0 win over Real Madrid last Saturday to leave Los Blancos eleven points behind leaders Barcelona. They have now dropped 13 points already this season, having relinquished just 14 in the whole of the last campaign. Atlético have won 11 of their last 12 matches in La Liga. The last time they displayed such epic form they proceeded to win the league. They dispatched Sevilla with ease last Sunday and beat Real Jaen in the Copa del Rey 1-0, but this is a test of the highest order.
It's 23 matches and nearly 14 years since Atléti defeated their arch rivals, in what has become one of the most one-sided derby rivalries in world football. A double chance of Real/draw is 1.12. With the home side dropping points and the away team swatting aside all comers, there's a sense that a change is in the air, but it's more probable that it will surface in the reverse fixture.
Radamel Falcao might fancy a move to the Premiership or he might consider a swap across town. Either way he will certainly be in the mood to show the world his quality in this one. 'El Tigre' has now reached 50 goals in official matches with the Manzanares club, and is at 6.25 for first goal.
This really is game that could go either way and is perhaps the most intriguing fixture of the Spanish season so far. If you only normally catch 'El Clasico' then make sure your diary is kept free for this game. It's a potential cracker, with the draw at 4.40 the safest bet.
There have been over 2.5 goals scored in 24 of Real Madrid's last 28 home games in La Liga. They have netted at least three goals in 22 of their previous 27 home matches, making over 2.5 goals a banker at 1.42.
Score prediction: Real Madrid 2-2 Atlético Madrid (14.00)