Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid: Match Preview


Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid. In possibly Spain’s biggest soccer rivalry, Atletico Madrid will host their cross town rival Real Madrid in a reprisal of last season’s Champions League Final — which Real Madrid won 4-1 a.e.t. — and the 2014-15 season’s six El Derbi madrileño in which Atletico have won four and drawn two.

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  • Under the reign of Diego Simeone — the manager of Atletico Madrid — the telling feature of this rivalry has been the inability of Real Madrid to defeat the exceptionally structured press that Simone has installed as the foundation of his strategy.

    The Rojiblancos have exploited the obsession of Florentino Perez — Real Madrid’s president — to build a side that could conquer the possession based attack of Barcelona.

    To satisfy this obsession Real Madrid’s first team is built around the counter attack, preferring physically gifted stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale who have combined to build the most lethal counter attack in European club football.

    However, the Real Madrid attack has historically struggled against sides that force Real Madrid to break them down.

    Atletico Madrid has willingly ceded possession of the ball to their crosstown rival — only retaining 35.8% of possession — while outscoring Real Madrid 12-4 during the 2014-15 season.

    “Defensively, the return of starting center back Sergio Ramos in conjunction with the return of central midfielder Luka Modric will make Real Madrid much more able to handle Atletico Madrid’s counter attacks.”

    In their matches against Real Madrid, Diego Simone’s side has aligned themselves in an extremely compact defensive press, with both starting forwards Mario Mandzukic and Antoine Griezmann dropping beneath los blancos’ deepest holding midfielder while still maintaining a high defensive line.

    This alignment will attempt to negate any space for Real Madrid to build any possession play centrally.

    Real Madrid will counter this press with an asymmetrical 4-4-2/4-3-3 formation that will see left central midfield James Rodriguez drift wide to the left flank and right winger Gareth Bale drop deep into Real’s midfield line.

    The moves will allow left winger Cristiano Ronaldo to form a partnership with center forward Karim Benzema in the side’s attack.

    Player Influence – Real Madrid, W 2-0 @ Rayo Vallecano. (Courtesy FourFourTwo Stats Zone).

    Most likely — with limited opportunities to advance the ball centrally — Real Madrid will play the ball through their wingers Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez as well as attacking fullbacks Dani Carvajal and Marcelo.

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    The moves will set up crossing of the ball towards their front two in an attempt to exploit Atletico Madrid’s lack of defensive cover at the center back position.

    Defensively, the return of starting center back Sergio Ramos in conjunction with the return of central midfielder Luka Modric will make Real Madrid much more able to handle Atletico Madrid’s counter attacks.

    In their last match — a 4-0 victory for Atletico Madrid — the naivety of Real Madrid’s reserve center back pairing of Raphael Varane and Nacho was apparent. The pairing was easily pulled apart by the coordinated wide attacking runs of Atletico’s front two.

    The combined attacking runs from fullbacks Juanfran and Guilherme Siqueira allowed Atletico to not only able to create a plethora of chances down both flanks but also create the necessary space to generate opportunities for their other attacking players.

    While Atletico may reprise this tactic, expect them to have fewer scoring opportunities.

    In what will most likely be a static and physical affair, expect a nervy match that could come down to a brief moment of spectacular individual play or an egregious individual error.

    Next: PSG's Champions League Crisis