Real Madrid take on Atletico Madrid in the derbi Madrileno this weekend at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday, in a fixture which could go some way to deciding the destination of La Liga's title even at this early stage.
Real Madrid have been on a incredible run of late, winning 11 of their last 12 matches and nine in a row in all competitions. That includes six wins in a row in La Liga including defeats of Sevilla, Real Sociedad and Rayo Vallecano, teams that have been in and around the leading positions.
They have been purring for a few months now and are really finding their gear.
Atletico Madrid's form, meanwhile has been far more patchy. Excellent wins against Porto and Cadiz are surrounded by poor losses to Milan and Mallorca meaning it's hard to gauge Atletico at the moment. They are not as solid defensively as in previous years, but do have outright riches in attack on the days they click - which hasn't been as often as Diego Simeone would like.
Team News and Injured Players
Both sides had Champions League fixtures in midweek, though Atletico's outing against Porto was more gruelling than their hosts.
Real's main doubt was over Karim Benzema, who picked up a slight knock against Inter, but it is widely thought that he will be back in time for this match. Dani Ceballos is a long-term concern.
Atleti, meanwhile, have problems in defence with Kieran Trippier, Sime Vrsaljko and Jose Gimenez all out. Geoffrey Kondogbia started in defence against Porto and may be forced to do so again.
And in attack, Luis Suarez exited early against Porto and is highly unlikely to make this one. Matheus Cunha could deputise in attack.
Predicted Starting XI's
REAL MADRID (4-3-3) Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Alaba, Mendy; Kroos, Casemiro, Modric; Asensio, Benzema, Vinicius Jr
ATLETICO MADRID: (4-4-2) Oblak; Llorente, Hermoso, Kondogbia, Lodi; Lemar, De Paul, Koke, Carrasco; Cunha, Griezmann
What could decide the match?
Atletico Madrid have been in better form and with more players fit in the past to challenge a Real Madrid team on a high. Their record at Santiago Bernabeu over the years also leaves much to be desired.
Their patched-up defence will struggle to cope with Madrid's incessant attacking threat that has scored 37 goals in 16 La Liga encounters. There's just no way that this version of Atleti are able to keep a clean sheet.
Given the relative form of both sides, and the manner in which they enter this clash from a personnel perspective, it's difficult to see a situation where Atletico leave with a positive result.
Real have controlled matches well and struck at the right times of late to ensure the outcome is shaped in their favour. Luka Modric, despite his age, remains the master at this. Expected Real to get a lead and control the rest of the outcome until the finish.
FC PREDICTION: REAL MADRID 2-1 ATLETICO MADRID
The betting angle
Real Madrid to win is an excellent bet at the moment and the fact that they are available at a general Evens with most bookmakers suggests that it's not necessary to add on any particular elements to your bet to enhance the odds - that price is generally good enough for us at FC.
But if you wanted to give yourself a BET BUILDER interest in the clash, you could do worse than the trifecta of Real Madrid to win Karim Benzema to score anytime and under 4.5 Goals
Benzema has scored in his last four outings at Santiago Bernabeu, while 4.5 goals has been a regular occurrence in Real Madrid matches of late, landing in eight of their last nine matches. This bet builder will pay around 3/1.
- Real Madrid to win
- Karim Benzema to score at any time
- Under 4.5 goals