4 Key Battles That Could Decide Saturday’s Madrid Derby at the Bernabeu

Real Madrid host Atlético Madrid this Saturday, the second Madrid derby of the season after the pair faced off in the UEFA Super Cup last month and the 22nd instalment of the fixture in the last five years. 

Real are currently two points clear of their cross town rivals after a wacky round of midweek fixtures, and know anything but defeat will see them stay ahead in proceedings. 

Atlético Madrid however, have seen an upturn in fortunes since their shock defeat to Celta Vigo and find themselves unbeaten in four in all competitions. 

4. Diego Costa vs Sergio Ramos

One of the most intriguing clashes ahead of Saturday’s fixture, these two are Madrid’s finest pantomime villains. 

The last time the pair met, Costa smashed Atlético into the lead in a record breaking 50 seconds as Atlético claimed the UEFA Super Cup – and Ramos should not be allowing the Spanish striker such fortunes this time around.

Ramos is the current holder of the Spanish league red card record, while Costa specialises in getting under the skin of opposition. Ramos knows he must keep his cool in what is sure to be a bitter contest between the pairing.  

However, one area in which Ramos can boast some bragging rights is, perhaps surprisingly, goalscoring. Two goals from the spot have him ahead of his Spain teammate, who has yet to score in the league since February. 

3. Casemiro vs Koke

Koke managed to score in the UEFA Super Cup earlier this year, and will be looking to get his first of the season in Saturday’s crunch clash.

After grabbing an assist in midweek, Koke is currently boasting a successful pass completion rate of 87.6% and may be key to breaking down a Madrid back line which conceded three away to Sevilla in midweek. 

However, Casemiro will be tasked with breaking up play and closing the pockets of space that Koke likes to occupy. Tactically disciplined, the Brazilian has an eye for an interception and will most certainly win any aerial duels between the pairing.

2. Karim Benzema vs Diego Godin

Karim Benzema has started the season in super form. Scoring four goals from just twelve shots, the Frenchman’s scoring rate is providing a strong response to critics who constantly claim he is surplus to requirements at the Bernabeu.

However, the French hitman hasn’t found the back of the net since his man of the match performance against Leganes, leaving him on a run of four games without a goal.

Diego Godin will look to extend Benzema’s drought as the experienced pair come up against one another on Saturday.

Featuring in all of Atlético’s opening six matches, Godin is the heart and soul of Los Colchoneros’ back line and will be looking to extend Atlético’s run of clean sheets beyond Saturday.

1. Thomas Lemar vs Dani Carvajal

Atlético’s £52.7m signing will be lining up to partake in his first Madrid derby this weekend. After initially impressing in his opening bouts for Los Colchoneros, Lemar will be tasked with proving his big game doubters wrong here.

Straight of the back of a World Cup win with France, Lemar has been directly involved in three goals in six appearances for Atlético and enters this one in red hot form.

The man tasked with occupying the busy Lemar is Dani Carvajal. After missing out on Espanyol and Sevilla through injury, Carvajal should be fully rejuvenated and will be expected to have an impact both defensively and offensively.