Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane avoided defeat and possibly unemployment with a much-needed 2-0 win over Borussia Moenchengladbach in midweek but Saturday’s test against Atletico could be a much higher hurdle for the Frenchman to get over.
However, Zidane will be able to welcome back a number of fresh faces and should hope to see a more spirited performance from his key players after the Champions League victory. Similarly Diego Simeone’s side go into the match with their cross-city rivals in fantastic form and a relatively clear bill of health.
For Madrid, the big news in defence will be Sergio Ramos’ return to domestic football after recovering from injury to take part in the Gladbach game. He should keep his influential spot at centre back, with Dani Carvajal also expected to return just in time to make Zidane’s starting XI.
Ever the pragmatist, Simeone is expected to bring Mario Hermoso into his defence to form a back three, with Kieran Trippier and Yannick Carrasco playing in their superb wing-back positions.
The midfield should remain relatively similar for both sides, with Zidane most likely sticking with the same trio that dominated Gladbach in midweek. Similarly, Atletico should start with their combative trio of Saul Niguez, Maros Llorente and Koke in a bit to try and dominate the middle of the park.
Carvajal’s return will mean a right wing role for Lucas Vazquez, with Vinicius Jr playing on the left. Karim Benzem also returned from injury in midweek and looked back to his best, so it’s almost certain that he’ll start up front for Madrid.
Again, no real surprises from Athletico here as they stick with their tried and tested forward partnership of Luis Suarez and Joao Felix up front.