Local rivals Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid will meet for an eagerly anticipated La Liga clash on Sunday. Atlético Madrid is the reigning champion after finishing two points clear of its illustrious neighbor last season. However, Real Madrid has made a flying start to the current campaign.
It is currently on a nine-game winning streak, which has catapulted it to the top of the table, eight points clear of second-place Sevilla. Atlético trails Real Madrid by 10 points, but it does have a game in hand, and a victory for Diego Simeone’s men on Sunday would blow the title race wide open.
Atletico Madrid vs. Real Madrid
Sunday, December 12, 2021 – 03:00 PM EST at Wanda Metropolitano
Real Madrid Flourishes Under Ancelotti
Carlo Ancelotti deserves credit for the work he has done at Real Madrid this season. He was already popular with the fans after guiding Los Blancos to their 10th Champions League title back in 2014, so he was a sensible choice to replace outgoing club legend Zinedine Zidane in the summer.
Ancelotti’s second tenure at the club has gone swimmingly thus far. His team has 12 wins, three draws, and just one defeat from 16 league matches. It also beat Inter Milan 2-0 in midweek to finish top of its Champions League group, so the players should be full of confidence as they prepare for this important game.
Atlético Cannot Afford to Lose
Things have not gone quite so well for Atlético Madrid this season. They have just eight wins, five draws, and two defeats from 15 games, but there is still plenty of time for them to catch Real Madrid.
Simeone’s team suffered a disappointing 2-1 home defeat to newly-promoted Mallorca last weekend. A sensational goal from Matheus Cunha handed it the lead, but Mallorca scored twice in the last 10 minutes to turn things around.
Yet Atlético bounced back with a crucial 3-1 win against Porto in midweek, which saw them qualify for the knockout stage of the Champions League. They expended a lot of energy in that game – both physically and mentally – but Simeone should have no problem firing up his troops for this match.
Real Madrid’s star striker, Karim Benzema, limped off the pitch during the team’s 2-0 win against Real Sociedad last weekend. He was unable to take part in the midweek win against Inter, and he is a doubt for this game.
If he does not recover from injury in time, we should see Luka Jović lead the line once again, flanked by Vinícius Júnior and Rodrygo. Jović was quiet against Inter in midweek, but he provided a goal and an assist against Sociedad.
Real Madrid has no other injury concerns. Atlético Madrid is missing striker Luis Suárez and defenders Stefan Savić and Šime Vrsaljko. José Giménez, Atlético’s best defender, should be fit to return to the team, while Renan Lodi could replace Vrsaljko.
The draw has paid off in seven of the last 10 meetings between these teams. Atlético Madrid has not beaten Real Madrid since 2016 in the league, but it regularly battles to a draw with Los Blancos. Real Madrid is on fire right now, and it is tempting to back a team that is on a nine-game winning streak, but the draw at +260 with BetMGM may be the more sensible option.
Both teams to score at -122 with FanDuel also looks appealing. Real Madrid has scored in 14 out of its 16 games this season, while Atlético Madrid has scored in 13 out of 15 games. Real Madrid has also kept just five clean sheets in 16 games, so we should see goals on Sunday.
Soccer Pick: Draw at +260 with BetMGM
Soccer Pick: Both teams to score at -122 with FanDuel