The most recent edition of the famed Madrid derby will now take place in Spain’s Copa Del Rey cup competition as the two Madrid giants Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid will go to war against each other at the Santiago Bernabeu in the Spanish capital on Thursday night.
There is no doubt that revenge will be on Diego Simeone’s mind after his side suffered a 2-1 loss at the hands of Los Blancos in La Liga at the Wanda Metropolitano in September. Meanwhile, Real Madrid will be looking to qualify for the semi-finals of the competition.
January has been a bit of a topsy-turvy ride for Real Madrid. They missed out on silverware after being demolished by arch-rivals Barcelona in the final of the Supercopa de Espana in in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Since then, however, Carlo Ancelotti’s team has shown plenty of character and has bounced back well with consecutive victories over Villarreal and Athletic Bilbao.
The win over Villarreal is a testament to Los Blancos’ formidable mentality and gritty attitude. Despite going two goals down, they refused to throw in the towel and ended up beating the Yellow Submarine 3-2 in the last 16 stage of the Copa Del Rey to qualify for the quarter-finals where they will now face off with city rivals Atletico Madrid.
The defending champions of Spain were also involved in La Liga action last weekend. Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos scored a goal in each half as Real Madrid dispatched with Athletic Bilbao 2-0 at the San Mames.
The win allowed the Spanish giants to close the gap at the top of the table with Barcelona to just three points. Ancelotti’s men have collected 41 points from their 17 games so far this season and they have lost and drawn two matches each. Real Madrid also have an in-form Real Sociedad hot on their heels and the Basque outfit are separated by just three points although Los Blancos do have a game in hand.
While defending their La Liga championship will be very high on Ancelotti’s list of priorities, they must now momentarily switch their focus back to the Copa Del Rey. Real Madrid haven’t lifted this trophy since the 2013-14 season and more importantly, Los Blancos have failed to even reach the Copa del Rey final over the last eight years and have been eliminated at the quarter-final stage on four occasions during this period, including a 1-0 loss to Bilbao last season.
It makes for ominous bearings given the quality of the side that they are up against at the quarter-final stage once again. Real Madrid will also enjoy the fact that the match will be played on their home turf at the Bernabeu given that each of their last seven game across all competitions have been played away from home.
At the Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid have been nearly invincible and are unbeaten in the 10 matches so far this season. However, the caveat is that their defence hasn’t been as impenetrable and they have only one clean sheet to show for their efforts.
Los Blancos have already beaten Atletico in La Liga this season, the aforementioned 2-1 away win four months ago, while they have also won each of their last four home meetings against them without conceding, so Ancelotti and co should be confident of keeping their fierce rivals quiet on Thursday.
Atletico Madrid, on the other hand, experience and underwhelming start to 2023. They won, lost, and drew their first three fixtures of the new year. However, since then, Los Rojiblancos have bounced back in style and have secured victories over Levante and Real Valladolid while keeping consecutive clean sheets.
They were last involved in Copa Del Rey action against Levante in the last 16 stage of the competition. Los Colchoneros ended up seeking a 2-0 win before returning to La Liga action this weekend against Valladolid. Antoine Griezmann, Alvaro Morata, and Mario Hermoso all scored inside the first half an hour to put the game to bed and the contest ended 3-0 in favour of Diego Simeone’s men.
Despite their strong recent form, there are virtually zero hopes for a title charge in La Liga as Atletico Madrid trail table-toppers Barcelona by 10 points despite having played a game more. Los Rojiblancos are currently fourth in the standings with 31 points and have Villarreal, also level on the same number of points, breathing down their neck for the final Champions League spot in Spain. Atleti’s better goal difference of +11 compared to the Yellow Submarine’s +8 is giving them the edge right now but Simeone will be well aware of how fragile that advantage is.
Atletico will now endeavour to build on their recent victories with a triumph in the Madrid derby, a fixture in which they have beaten rivals Real only twice in their last 13 competitive meetings across all competitions.
Much like their city rivals, Los Colchoneros have also endured a terrible drought in the Copa Del Rey competition. The last time that they won this trophy was during the 2012-13 season. Over the course of the last nine years, Atleti have been knocked out from the competition at the quarter-final stage on three occasions. Even last year, they had suffered a shock 1-0 loss to third-tier outfit Cornella in the second round last season.
Atletico have favoured playing away from home in recent weeks, winning four and drawing one of their last five matches on the road, and they will hope to catch Real on an off day on Thursday as they bid to reach the Copa del Rey semi-finals for the first time in six years.
RMA vs ATM, Copa Del Rey
Date: 27th January, 2023
Time: 1:30 AM IST
Venue: Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
Real Madrid Copa Del Rey form:
Real Madrid form (all competitions):
Atletico Madrid Copa Del Rey form:
Atletico Madrid form (all competitions):
Real Madrid wins: 114
Atletico Madrid wins: 57
Real Madrid Team News:
Real Madrid are missing several important players due to a series of injuries. New signing Aurelien Tchouameni has a calf problem, Dani Carvajal has a muscular injury while Eden Hazard and Lucas Vazquez are both long-term absentees because of their ankle issues.
On the more positive side of things though, Los Blancos will definitely be boosted by the return of Austria international David Alaba, and head coach Ancelotti has confirmed that the defender “will play” against Atletico after recovering from a calf problem.
Veteran midfielders Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, who both began as substitutes last time out, are expected to be recalled to centre-midfield, while Eduardo Camavinga is set to complete the midfield three as Tchouameni continues his recovery from injury.
Marco Asensio started on the right flank against Bilbao, but his place could come under threat from either Federico Valverde or Rodrygo, while Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema are set to retain their places in attack.
Atletico Madrid Team News:
For Atletico Madrid, Stefan Savic and Sergio Reguilon will be making their comebacks from suspension and both of them will be in contention to take up their usual spots in the backline respectively.
However, central back Jose Maria Gimenez, who has missed the last three games because of a muscular issue, remains doubtful and is unlikely to be thrown straight back into the first XI even if he is given the medical green light for this game.
New signing Memphis Depay came off the bench against Valladolid to make his Atletico debut, and the Dutchman is in line to start his first game for the club in attack, with either Griezmann or Morata potentially making way.
Real Madrid possible starting lineup:
Courtois; Nacho, Rudiger, Alaba, Mendy; Modric, Camavinga, Kroos; Valverde, Benzema, Vinicius Jr
Atletico Madrid possible starting lineup:
Oblak; Molina, Savic, Hermoso, Reinildo; Llorente, De Paul, Kondogbia, Carrasco; Griezmann, Depay
Atletico Madrid’s return to form and their clean sheets in the last two games is bound to restore some level of confidence for Diego Simeone and his men. However, whether that uptick in morale will be enough to see them through the challenge of Real Madrid is a pertinent question whose answers tend to be negative.
Los Blancos have had their fair share of struggles, especially in defence, in recent weeks and hardly look invincible. While Real Madrid have dominated the Madrid derby in recent years and they have a strong record at home, nothing can be taken for granted.
Carlo Ancelotti will be foolish to let complacency sneak into his players. A Real Madrid win definitely looks likely here but Los Blancos will have to struggle to get there as Atletico Madrid might threaten to complicate matters for them.