One of the biggest games in European football takes place tonight at the Wanda Metropolitano as the two Madrid giants face off in LaLiga. Atleti have had a solid start to the season and already sit five points off their city rivals, who boast a perfect record after five games. Atleti, though, won the same fixture last season, their first derby win in five years.
Atleti will also be boosted by the absence of Karim Benzema. The Real Madrid striker suffered an injury against Celtic earlier this month and subsequently missed victories over Mallorca and RB Leipzig, so Rodrygo, Federico Valverde and Vinicius Junior should again start up front.
Jan Oblak has been passed fit, but Atleti will be missing a handful of players in what is expected to be a tight, and fierce, derby clash. Follow the game LIVE with Standard Sport’s dedicated blog below!
4min: Players are already clashing. We’ve had two flare ups and we haven’t even reached five minutes. This time it’s Koko on Valverde.
1min: We are up and running at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Two big boosts for Atletico Madrid with Oblak and Griezmann starting, while Real Madrid are, as expected, missing Benzema.
The hosts were poor in a midweek loss to Bayer Leverkusen but have otherwise improved of late after a slow start to the season. Real Madrid have been in imperious form, yet to drop points either domestically or in Europe.
Atleti, as ever, will pose a significant threat but I am backing the visitors’ superior strength to shine through and secure a narrow 2-1 win.
Disgraceful scenes outside the stadium allegedly tonight.
Kick-off in 45 minutes.
So, this is a bit of a surprise. Diego Simone has perhaps put his foot down and starts the loanee despite the ongoing dispute with Barcelona.
Simeone does, though, have his top goalkeeper back as Oblak recovers from a knock. Ivo Grbic has taken his place in the last two games: a 4-1 win over Celta Vigo and Tuesday’s 2-0 loss at Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League.
Real Madrid XI
Early team news from the champs.
Griezmann’s part-time role
Once again it seems likely that forward Antoine Griezmann will be limited to playing the final half hour tonight because of a dispute between Atletico and Barcelona regarding his loan deal.
Atletico has apparently asked Simeone to limit the minutes Griezmann plays in an attempt to avoid having to pay Barcelona €40millon stipulated in his loan contract if he played more than half the available minutes. Barcelona says that Atletico should already pay the sum after the player played more than half the games last season, mostly as a starter.
Atletico has a different interpretation of the loan deal that is in its second season. It seemingly is trying to reduce the overall average of Griezmann’s playing time to less than 45 minutes per game by the end of the season.
Atletico club president Enrique Cerezo said his club was not in talks to renegotiate the deal with Barcelona, which has threatened to take its league rival to court.
“I think on the Griezmman issue it is all very clear and everyone knows or imagines what is going on,” Cerezo said Wednesday. “Until this is completely resolved, if indeed there is something to solve, we will remain at this same point.”
Griezmann has produced in his limited role, scoring three goals despite not playing more than 30 minutes in all seven of his appearances. Atletico’s other playmaker, Joao Felix, has yet to score this season. Alvaro Morata, a former Madrid striker, has also scored three times and will most likely start.
Vinicius Jr criticised for… dancing?!
An interesting, and rather ugly, backdrop to this game is the racism storm surrounding Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior.
The striker has faced remarkably criticism for his dancing goal celebrations and the club were moved to issue a statement in defence of the player after a guest on a televised sports talk show reportedly said Vinicius, who is Black, should stop “doing the monkey.”
The club said in the statement on Friday that it “rejects all types of racist and xenophobic expression and behaviour in soccer, sports and life in general, such as the regrettable and unfortunate comments in recent hours directed toward our player Vinicius Junior.”
The club added it would take legal action against anyone who used racist language against its player.
The debate regarding Vinicius’ goal celebrations was sparked after Atletico Madrid’s Koke Resurreccion said “there could be trouble” if the Madrid forward dances after a goal on Sunday in the Madrid derby to be played at Atletico’s stadium.