Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid each got a lift ahead of their derby on Sunday, with Sevilla's 2-1 upset win against defending champion Barcelona on Saturday. But both Madrid clubs are seeking three points when they meet at the Vicente Calderon in a crucial La Liga match.
Head coach Rafael Benitez announced on Saturday that he won't have the services of attacking midfielder James Rodriguez, who is nursing a thigh injury, but both Sergio Ramos and Gareth Bale are available. Ramos was previously sidelined with a dislocated shoulder, while Bale was healing from a calf injury. Benitez would not say whether either would start, but both figure to see minutes.
Meanwhile, Benitez was also noncommittal on whether he would start Mateo Kovacic or Toni Kroos in the midfield.
"I felt Toni played well the other day. From my perspective, I'd say he's physically and tactically in decent shape," he said. "Another factor is his decision making. The fact that we can have this 'Toni or Kovacic' debate is good for me."
As for Atletico, head coach Diego Simeone will be without star midfielder Koke, who is sidelined with a hamstring injury. Koke picked up the injury on Sept. 19 in a 2-0 win against Eibar.
Simeone is looking for his squad to bounce back after suffering back-to-back defeats to first-place Villarreal in La Liga action, and Benfica on Wednesday in a Champions League group match. The outspoken manager said he expected some setbacks early in the season given the youth of his roster.
This is the first time the two clubs have met this season, with Real Madrid currently in fourth place with 14 points, and Atletico just behind with 12 points.
Last season, they met in four competitions. Atletico Madrid defeated Real Madrid in the Super Cup by a 2-1 aggregate score. In the regular season, Atletico defeated Real Madrid 2-1 at Santiago Bernabeu, and then won 4-0 at Vicente Calderon. In Copa del Rey action, Atletico eliminated Real Madrid by a 4-2 aggregate. Los Blancos would get the last laugh, by eliminating their local rivals in the Champions League quarterfinals, 1-0 on aggregate.
Start Time: 2:25 p.m. EDT
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