Tonight’s semi-final between Real Madrid and city rivals, Atletico, is one of the most heated derby’s in world football and should be a cracking match.
Atletico hadn’t won a single competitive match against Real since 1999, but last year’s Copa del Rey final was their first victory over their neighbours in 14 years.
The only other match, which the two sides played since, also went into Atletico’s favour, who surprisingly won 1-0 at the Bernabeu in September.
Diego Simeone’s side are in blistering form this season and have climbed to the summit of the La Liga table on Sunday. They are unbeaten in their last 15 Copa del Rey matches and will surely want to keep their record, despite traveling to Bernabeu.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, have missed the chance to move past stumbling rivals, Barcelona, when they drew 1-1 with Bilbao over the weekend. However, the Los Blancos also enter the match on the back of a 21-games unbeaten run.
The hosts are the only side who are yet to concede a Copa del Rey goal and Real’s Cup goalkeeper, Iker Casillas, will try to extend his personal record of going 682 minutes without conceding a goal.
Casillas could also be seen as the good omen for Real, because he hasn’t lost a single match against Atletico in 14 years.
Real Madrid boss, Carlo Ancelotti, will be happy that he can feature birthday-boy, Cristiano Ronaldo, and make use of his best squad, with only long-term absentee, Sami Khedira, missing. He already confirmed that Alvaro Arbeloa and Fabio Contrao will start and is likely to feature Gareth Bale, who returned from injury this week.
Diego Simeone, meanwhile, has a few injury concerns and will definitely have to replace his first-choice left-back, Filipe Luis, as well as striker, David Villa. However, in-form Arda Turan and new signing, Diego, are both available and should boost Atletico’s attacking threat.
The derby is likely to be a clash of Real’s 4-3-3 system against Atletico’s 4-5-1, with the home side eager to dominate possession and the visitors focussing on counter attacks.
Carlo Ancelotti promised his side will show another face compared to when they lost at home to Atletico in September and Diego Simeone tried to sell his side as underdogs before the game.
I believe the match will be a close one and will either see Real winning with the smallest of margins or end 1-1. Both sides will not risk everything to still be in the competition for next week’s return leg.
What’s your prediction for the Madrid derby tonight? Have your say in the comment section below.