Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid: Match preview

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Real Madrid registered comprehensive victories in the Spanish Super Cup over rivals Atletico Madrid and FC Barcelona to lift the trophy. Now, they face a familiar foe in their city rivals to secure qualification to the next round of the Copa Del Rey.

Match details

Date: Thursday, 18th January 2024
Competition: Copa Del Rey
Matchday: Round of 16
Time: 22:30 CEST
Venue: Wanda Metropolitano

Match preview

It was just a week ago at the same time, when these city rivals locked horns in Riyadh and it was the team in white, which emerged victorious in a high-scoring 5-3 win, after finding themselves behind twice in the game.

This time, both teams will meet at the Wanda Metropolitano, where Real Madrid have suffered their only defeat of the season, with Carlo Ancelotti also admitting that he made mistakes in that fixture.

The Merengues will be high on confidence and delighted that Vinícius Júnior is back in form, Rodrygo isn’t putting a foot wrong and Jude Bellingham is just being Jude Bellingham – if put simply.

As soon as the Super Cup match ended, Diego Simeone made it clear that this match won’t be about revenge. In the pre-match press conference, he emphasized that this fixture is about mentality, not physicality.

“Atlético are physically inferior to Madrid? If we talk about physicality, they have very strong players in Kroos, Tchouameni, and Rüdiger…but tomorrow it’s not about the legs but the mental speed. Hopefully, we have the mental speed that the game demands,” he said.

Meanwhile, Carlo Ancelotti mentioned how their ongoing winning streak may come to an end at any time and also didn’t reveal much about the starting lineup for the match. “It is not possible to win every game ever. Our streak may come to an end, but the important thing is how we take it and bounce back,” said the Italian.

However, based on the recent Super Cup performance and some matches in La Liga, it’s safe to assume that Andriy Lunin has secured his place as the starting goalkeeper in Thibaut Courtois’s absence, with Kepa not living up to the standards.

As far as the defense is concerned, Dani Carvajal has been in sublime form and is expected to keep his place in the eleven. Los Blancos don’t have any other option than to go with Rüdiger and Nacho again, who haven’t made many mistakes this season.

Ferland Mendy has been dribbled past just twice this season and according to reports, Ancelotti loves him and wants him to stay at the club, a feeling which the Frenchman also shares despite being aware of Alphonso Davies’ potential arrival next season.

MARCA reports that Ancelotti is planning to start Tchouaméni and Camavinga in the midfield along with Fede Valverde, with Modrić and Kroos both being on the bench. This won’t be a surprise as both veterans played a good chunk of the Super Cup. Fede Valverde is a workhorse and it won’t be a surprise if he starts and plays the entire game again.

It’s an important fixture and although Güler has shown shades of what he’s capable of, the Italian manager may feel it’s too early to start him and may trust Jude Bellingham, who has not put a foot wrong and just played a sumptuous pass to split Barcelona’s defense, for Vini to score.

“Rodrygo will play against Atletico Madrid,” said Carlo, which means that the Brazilian pair of Rodrygo and Vinícius will start this game with Brahim Diaz coming off the bench. The Spaniard created problems for Atletico – even scoring against them – and Barcelona and is the best bet against tired legs in the latter half of the game.

Los Rojiblancos fans will surely be riled up for this fixture and even though Simeone mentioned it’s not about revenge, the fans may feel otherwise. As far as mentality is concerned, Real Madrid are the strongest. Will the front line of Los Blancos continue their explosive form or will Atletico salvage a victory and heal their wounds from the previous defeat?

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