Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid predictions: Real to earn derby delight

Simon Barlow
Spotlight
Carlo Ancelotti has led Real Madrid to eight successive wins this season
Carlo Ancelotti has led Real Madrid to eight successive wins this season

Reigning European and LaLiga champions Real Madrid make the short journey to face city rivals Atletico on Sunday in a bid to make it nine wins from nine this season. 

Carlo Ancelotti's men required two late goals to keep their perfect start going against RB Leipzig in midweek. 

And they again look set to be without talismanic striker Karim Benzema this weekend as he continues to rest a knee problem that caused him to come off just half an hour into their 3-0 win at Celtic the week before. 

Diego Simeone's side were the last team to beat Los Blancos, doing so late last season but are coming into this off a tough Champions League loss at Bayer Leverkusen. 

And with Joao Felix on a barren run and the strange circumstances surrounding Antoine Griezmann's relegation to the substitute's bench continuing, the Rojiblancos will need to raise their game to secure victory.

Team news 

Striker Karim Benzema looks set to miss out again for Real Madrid
Striker Karim Benzema looks set to miss out again for Real Madrid

Griezmann made his customary appearance off the bench in midweek and seems likely to stay there for this important derby clash as Atletico and Barcelona argue over the terms of his loan deal. 

But Simeone's bigger worry right now may be over the form of Felix, who has not scored all season. 

Both he and Alvaro Morata could be dropped in favour of a more dynamic strikeforce against Real with Angel Correa and Matheus Cunha pushing for starts, although reports suggest Correa will play in midfield alongside Koke and Geoffrey Kondogbia. 

Real boss Ancelotti has used a couple of different options up front while Benzema has been out with Eden Hazard potentially the choice on Sunday after he was given a break in midweek. 

Toni Kroos will come back into the starting XI — probably at the expense of Eduardo Camavinga — to play alongside Luka Modric and Aurelien Tchouameni in Ancelotti's engine room. 

The stats 

Real Madrid are the only team across Europe's top five leagues to maintain a perfect record — their eight-game win sequence comprising of five LaLiga games, two Champions League outings and the final of the Super Cup against Eintracht Frankfurt. 

Only twice in the history of the club have Real had longer winning runs at the start of the season — both of 11 straight matches in 1961-62 and 1968-69. 

Of the last 10 matches in which Mario Hermoso and Felipe have started in central defence, Atletico have won once (against Osasuna) and lost six times. 

Felix's goal drought now extends to 736 minutes after he failed to score in the final four games he played in 2021-22 and the first seven games this season. 

Griezmann has entered the fray after the hour mark in all seven of Atletico's matches this season, scoring three goals in just 192 minutes of action. 

Prediction 

Los Blancos have not won any of their last three visits to their city neighbours but Sunday's game presents them with a rare chance to continue a perfect run that may eventually go down in the history books. 

Defensively, they look better organised and much calmer under pressure than Simeone's side while they still seem capable of troubling elite defences without Benzema.

Another factor playing into Real's favour is their second-half form this season — 16 goals scored and none conceded after the half-time whistle in their eight matches so far. 

The physical preparation of Ancelotti's staff and the Italian's canny selections and substitutions take credit for that. 

Atletico's second-half record, for comparison, this term currently stands at eight goals scored and seven goals conceded — even with the manager keeping Griezmann as a joker up his sleeve. 

Real Madrid should finish strongly again on Sunday and make it nine wins out of nine to start the campaign.

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