Cristiano Ronaldo will be absent for Real Madrid as they look to rebound from Wednesday’s 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Borussia Dortmund with a local derby against Atletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderon.
Madrid’s assistant manager Aitor Karanka revealed on Friday that Ronaldo suffered a muscular problem before the match in Germany and the club is taking no chances as they look to mount a famous comeback in their Champions League semifinal tie with the second leg to come on Tuesday.
Yet, with huge local pride at stake as well as the two teams being separated by just three points in La Liga, Karanka was keen to stress how important Saturday’s derby was to the club.
“The match against Atletico is of the utmost importance to us because we are playing against our city rivals and our main competition for second place,” he said, according to Real Madrid’s official website. “The best way to go into Tuesday’s match at the Bernabeu is with a win at the Calderon and to distance ourselves from this bad moment as soon as possible.”
The incentive to get a victory is perhaps even bigger for Atletico, however. Diego Simeone’s side have lost their last nine encounters against their more illustrious rivals, but, coming toward the end of a fine season, know that a win will provide a very real chance of finishing above Madrid in second place.
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“The league is not finished on Saturday,” Simeone explained, according to Atletico Madrid’s official website. “There are a lot of games left to play and we always have the desire to keep growing. To improve on last season. The higher we can finish, the more important it will be for the club and for a team that has worked hard, we are strong and will continue to grow."
Simeone will have Diego Costa available after a yellow card received in the 1-0 victory at Sevilla last week, which would have meant a suspension, was rescinded. Arda Turan is likely top again be absent with an ankle injury.
Atletico Madrid (probable)
D: Juanfran, Miranda, Godin, Luis
M: Gabi, Suarez
Garcia, Costa, Koke
Real Madrid (probable)
D: Nacho, Albiol, Carvalho, Coentrao
M: Pepe, Alonso
Callejon, Kaka, Benzema
Prediction: Atletico will rarely have had a better opportunity to get a victory over their neighbors in recent times. Madrid coach Jose Mourinho is likely to make wholesale changes to his starting lineup in order to keep players fresh to try and engineer a fight back against Dortmund next week.
Atletico have been in good form, particularly at the back where they have gone three games without conceding. And with Radamel Falcao leading the line Atletico have every chance of claiming the three points.
Atletico Madrid 2-1 Real Madrid
Where to watch: The Liga division will kick-off at 2 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by beIN sport. A live stream, which you view at your own discretion, will be available here.