We’ve reached another edition of one of football’s best rivalries, the Madrid Derby, and it’s come at a crucial moment for both sides. Real are hanging on by the very definition of a single thread in the La Liga race as Barcelona have pulled away, while Atletico are locked in a fairly tight battle to stay in the top four. Let’s take a look at the odds and make some picks for this derby clash.
Real Madrid vs. Atlético Madrid United Odds
Real Madrid are home favorites in this one with odds of -135, while Atletico are pretty big underdogs at +340, and the draw is set at +255. For a goalscoring total of 2.5, the over is -105, while the under is -120.
Real Madrid vs. Atlético Madrid Prediction & Pick
As has so often been the case in this rivalry, especially in matches contested at the legendary Bernabéu, Real Madrid should have the upper hand, but they just might have bigger fish to fry. For the fourth time in five seasons, they’re up against Liverpool in the Champions League. They’ve been victorious in each of the three previous editions, but that is still not a matchup they’ll take lightly; after a hard-fought first leg at Anfield on Tuesday, it’s possible that some key players might need a rest or half-rest over the weekend, potentially weakening the side for the derby. To make matters worse, young star midfielder Aurélien Tchouaméni and veteran Toni Kroos are likely to be out, significantly hampering squad depth when they need it most, although Karim Benzema has effectively shaken off a recent injury concern.
On the other side of town, Atletico have smoothed things out and re-found their identity in recent weeks. After an uncharacteristically choppy defensive start to the season, Los Colchoneros have really settled in; they haven’t allowed multiple goals within the 90 minutes of regulation in any match since the World Cup break ended. The reason that “90 minutes” stipulation needs to be added is the most recent Madrid Derby, which was a Copa del Rey match that Atleti lost 3-1 in overtime. They’ll look to build on the defensive successes of the first portion of the game, while trying to avoid crumbling late like they did the last time out. They’ve also been seeing goals from a healthy array of different scorers, although the constant factor has been the excellent play of Antoine Griezmann, which has persisted throughout the season.
As different as the circumstances might be from when these teams last met, I’m going to have to pick a similar result; Real Madrid -135 on the moneyline. When they need a win, they often get it, and Carlo Ancelotti has a way of getting his squads into their best form when the crunch time of the season comes up. For the goalscoring total, it’s a bit tougher, but I do like under 2.5 goals at-120, with both defenses playing pretty well in recent weeks, and the Real Madrid attack and midfield missing some key creators.
Atlético Madrid Attack vs. Real Madrid Defense
As I’ve alluded to before, the Atleti attack centers around Antoine Griezmann more than anyone else; the versatile french CAM/forward’s 7 goals and 6 assists in La Liga are both team-leading figures. Alvaro Morata, amidst his customary streaky play, is tied with Griezmann with 7 league goals, and Ángel Correa has banged in 5 league goals, serving primarily as a second striker. And that’s about it, as far as true attackers; other than João Félix, who of course is currently on Chelsea, nobody else has more than two league goals for Atleti. I’d expect all three of these forwards to play some sort of a role against the club’s biggest rival- a late goal from a player with fresh legs could prove to be a massive difference-maker in this one.
They’ll be going up against a defense that has been just as strong as their own team’s vaunted unit- both sides have allowed precisely 17 goals in 22 La Liga matches. Los Blancos run a fairly consistent back four, in front of World-class keeper Thibaut Courtois, the man of the match from last year’s Champions League final. Éder Militão and newcomer Antonio Rüdiger have become a formidable centre-back pairing- the latter took some time to settle into La Liga, but has put together some solid performances of late. Madrid’s first-choice fullback duo of Dani Carvajal on the right and David Alaba on the left should also be on the pitch, as Carvajal was given a part-day off against Osasuna.
Real Madrid Attack vs. Atletico Madrid Defense
Once again, it’s time to talk about the Atletico defense, the unit that’s kept them afloat in recent weeks. They’ve allowed just one goal in their past 5 league matches, four of which have been clean-sheet wins, while the other was a 1-1 draw. The message is becoming clear; a solid defensive performance is an absolute prerequisite to an Atleti win. The centre-back pairing could be any two out of Stefan Savic, Mario Hermoso, and José Giménez, although to me, the clear choice is to leave out Hermoso. At right back is World Cup Champion Nahuel Molina, who has been one of the best players on Atleti in his first season with the club, as has been. Reinildo, his counterpart on the left.
Unshockingly, Real Madrid’s attack is the highest-scoring in La Liga, and in another twist that’s far from surprising, Karim Benzema is at the center of it all. He hasn’t been as prolific as last year, but of course is an incredible talent, coming off of a big performance against Liverpool. He’s been majorly supported, however, by two young stars, last year’s Champions League final goalscoring hero Vinicius Junior, and the versatile Uruguayan Federico Valverde. Depending on Benzema’s health, or if Valverde has to drop back to midfield to compensate for losses in that area, Rodrygo could be a factor either in the lineup or off of the bench; regardless, he’s the fourth key member of an absolutely lethal group.