The Madrid derby awaits at Santiago Bernabéu. One of the most anticipated games in Spanish football lights up the country’s capital this weekend.

Table-topping Real Madrid are flying at the moment, looking to continue their three-game winning run against rivals Atlético Madrid.

Zinedine Zidane has steadied Los Blancos this season, currently unbeaten in 20 games since losing 1-0 to Mallorca in October. 
They have scored 45 and conceded nine on that run and now sit three points ahead of Barcelona in first place.

Real have conceded 13 goals in 21 Liga games this season, the meanest defence in the league (and Europe) having let in two less than Liverpool.

Thibaut Courtois has massively improved for Real Madrid this season. (AFP via Getty Images)
Behind an increased work ethic and defensive improvement, which was so often their achilles’ heel in recent years, is a revived Thibaut Courtois between the posts. The Belgian shot-stopper has certainly got his confidence,and that of the Madrid support, back after error-strewn performances since joining from Chelsea 19 months ago. He would be looking to continue his fine form against his former team, after thwarting them in the penalty shootout of the Supercup final.

The whites have their solid midfield base with Toni Kroos in fine form, Federico Valverde’s emergence has helped the ageing Luka Modric remain fresh and impose himself on games whenever he gets on the pitch.

They would be once-again reliant on the attacking contribution of Karim Benzema, who tops both the scoring and assists charts for Real.

Visitors Atlético have dropped off in the title race, currently 10 points behind their cross-town rivals. The Rojiblancos are winless in the last four games, and would be keen to get going in the derby.

Fede Valverde’s game-deciding moment in the last Madrid derby. (Getty Images)
Recent bad blood exists between the sides; In the closing stages of extra time in the Supercopa final earlier this month. Álvaro Morata advanced through on goal to seemingly score a late winner, he was cynically hacked from behind by Fede Valverde, who rightfully got sent off, but ensured the game went to penalties which Real won 4-1.

Some form of revenge here would give them the confidence required to take on champions Liverpool in the Champions League round of 16.

Diego Simeone’s men, however, are without João Félix and Diego Costa in attack. 

Can they pull off another morale-boosting upset?
By all indications it is set to be a cracker, and Atleti will be going in all guns blazing.
Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin
January 31, 2020
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Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.

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