We are barely two months into the new season, but we are already primed for the second Madrid derby of the season. Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid won the Champions League and Europa League last season respectively, which means that they met in the UEFA Super Cup in August. Atletico won that particular clash 4-2 after extra time.
They have both endured some poor form at the start of the season, but they are fortunate to have been joined in their struggle by champions and leaders Barcelona. Neither side can afford to drop points, however, and this will be a must-win for both.
Here are three key aspects that we think will determine where the match is won or lost.
Julen Lopetegui v Diego Simeone
Atleti boss Diego Simeone made the most of his extensive experience in club management to lead his side to a win in the Super Cup. The Argentine has been at Atletico since 2011, where he has spearheaded a period of great success for the club. Real Madrid’s Julen Lopetegui has spent a majority of his coaching career managing the various age groups of the Spanish national team, with his only previous club experience having come at Porto between 2014 and 2016.
Simeone holds a slight advantage in that sense, and it is up to Lopetegui to prove that he has learned from the experience in August.
Adapting Real forwards v mean Atletico defence
Credit is due to the attacking players at Real for the way they have adapted to the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo. It hasn’t been entirely smooth sailing, but things have probably gone as well as they could given that they lost the man who led their strike force for nearly a decade. Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Marco Asensio will in all likelihood start upfront for Lopetegui’s side, and they will be well aware of what they’re up against.
Simeone has built a reputation for building his team’s success on a strong defensive backline, and this season has been no different. In six matches so far, only Villarreal (three) have conceded fewer goals than Atletico’s four.
Real’s strong home record v Atleti’s shaky away form
The biggest advantage for Real this weekend is probably the fact that they are playing in front of their fans at the Bernabeu. Los Blancos have not lost at home in their last 12 La Liga matches, with only two of those being draws.
On the other hand, Simeone’s boys have struggled on the road in recent times. They have drawn one and lost one of their three away matches in La Liga this season. Going back to last season, they have lost four and drawn two of their last nine games away from home in La Liga.