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Diego Simeone has revived Los Colchoneros since he took over as manager. Three trophies in the last two years lay claim to the fact that he has done miracles with a team left deep in relegation waters by his predecessor. This season has been even more fantastic.
The sale of talisman Radamel Falcao, which certainly impacted the odds for those invested in the world of soccer betting, to Monaco has done little to their lofty ambitions. David Villa was brought in to replace the Colombian, but it is the Brazilian-Spanish Diego Costa that has impressed the most, continuing from where he left off last season.
The prolific hardworker leads the La liga scorers chart this term with 7 goals (tied with Lionel Messi). One ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo. Turkish wing wizard, Arda Turan has put pen to paper on a contract extension and the likes of Raul Garcia, Mario Suarez, Tiago, Koke, Gabi, Diego Godin, Miranda and Thibaut Courtois have weighed in with their immense contributions so far. Not forgetting Filipe Luis, Juan Fran and others.
It is 14 whole years since Atletico last won any league match against their City rivals and more illustrious competitors. Not since Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s brace at the Bernabeu have Los Rojiblancos managed a victory v Real Madrid until last season’s Copa Del Rey Final win which ended almost a decade and a half of pure agony. There ids no better time to add to that triumph as we all know who the in-form team is with Madrid stuttering in midweek and Atletico coasting all season.
Real Madrid only managed to secure all three points at Elche courtesy of some comedy refereeing by Cesar Muniz Fernandez who is no stranger to controversy. Gerard Pique opined that it was like a scene from the movies when a penalty was awarded to Los Merengues.
Only the official saw that Sergio Sanchez wrestled Pepe to the ground when indeed they were both tugging at each other’s shirt. But Pique has no right to criticize a decision made by Muniz Fernandez. He was the man at the center when BARCELONA stole victory at the death v Sevilla and the Andalusians had a legitimate goal chalked off for handball. Arbeloa has since replied his national teammate’s trash talk.
The nine time European Champions must be at their very best to think of defeating a team high on confidence this evening at the Santiago Bernabeu which has been a fortress for a long time. But Atletico Madrid have shown that they can win there and they are no push overs.
They fought Barcelona home and away in the Supercoppa meetings and only lost because they let Neymar score a tame header at the Calderon. Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino admitted that the matches were evenly contested. A winner had to emerge and that was why Barcelona carried the day in the end.
Simeone’s men fear no one and have destroyed Zenit in the Champions League as well. In David Villa, they possess a man who has what it takes to hurt Real. Seven of his career goals have been scored against the 32-time La Liga champions.
Gareth Bale is likely to make his long awaited, overdue home debut today and what a match to do it. If he does great, it will go down well with Madridistas at the Bernabeu and around the world. The headache for Ancelotti is who to replace Bale with. Is it the in-form Isco whose start to life as a Blanco has been nothing short of magical? Or the hardworking Angel Di Maria whose industry and selflessness gives Madrid something different?
Borrowing a few words from Rob Train, Diego Simeone has turned the Rojiblancos into a footballing battering ram with Diego Costa providing the blunt edge and David Villa the velvet tip. The perfect analysis. Villa might not have scored many goals, but his ability is not in doubt and it has shown this season. His intelligence and all round forward play have led to direct and indirect assists, leaving spaces for Diego Costa to work on and ultimately exploit.
It is no accident that the Spanish Federation are considering the possibility of capping the aforementioned at International level. Vicente De Bosque has also put calls through to Koke and Mario Suarez and that has been down to what ‘EL Cholo’ has brought to the Calderon.
Sid Lowe stated that the Derby is no longer one sided and we can’t help but agree. The CDR victory on 17 May has gone a long way to remove the fear factor Atletico have when they face Real. Lady luck was on their side in that final. They won and that ended a run of 14 years without tasting victory in the Madrid derby.
The end result might come down to small details. Real have found it difficult to break down well oiled, well drilled defences this campaign as matches against Elche in midweek and Villareal at the Madrigal showed us.
It is also common knowledge that Ramos and Pepe make a lot of mistakes as a pair and occasionally go into challenges rashly. Carlo Ancelotti might have to stock pile his midfield with ILLARRA-KHEDIRA which means no space for the creative excellence of Luka Modric. Isco to pull the strings from attacking midfield and Di Maria to work on Luis/Juanfran. The Real manager is aware that Atletico are far more physical and powerful.
Although his team can boast of more quality individuals. Afterall, they have Cristiano Ronaldo whose 210 goals for the club have come in just 206 games. Thiabut Courtois has boasted that he knows how the Portuguese Captain executes his free-kicks. Might come back to hunt him.
Both teams know what to do. Play to your potential and limit that of the opponent. Easier said than played out. A great match in prospect.
Written by Ohireime Eboreime
Follow Ohis on Twitter @ohiskaka1990
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