The biggest game in world football this weekend is a heavyweight clash between fierce local rivals Atletico Madrid host Real Madrid. The teams are neck-and-neck in La Liga with 23 points apiece, which leaves them eight points behind runaway leaders Barcelona. Lionel Messi and co are away at Leganes this weekend and should secure a win as the best price you can get on them is just 3/10 with Ladbrokes. That will put the impetus on both Madrid clubs to secure a crucial victory in their local derby as they seek to keep pace with Barca. Both teams have been poor by their high standards this season and their clash should prove to be a fascinating spectacle as it will show who has fallen the furthest.
Real went into the season as huge favourites to defend their La Liga crown after winning a second consecutive Champions League title and cementing their status as the world’s best team. However, a summer of inactivity in the transfer market could have cost them as they have started the 2017/18 campaign in sluggish fashion. They have already drawn two and lost two out of 11 league games, and their fans’ misery is compounded by the superb form of fierce rivals Barcelona, who remain unbeaten. Even a resurgent Valencia are four points ahead of Real, and manager Zinedine Zidane looks in danger of going from hero to zero if his team cannot turn around their form. A 3-1 defeat at the hands of Tottenham in the Champions League will have dented their confidence, and they badly need a morale-boosting win.
Atletico have had a far tougher time of it in the Champions League. A summer of inactivity in the transfer market was mandatory for them as they have been hit with a transfer ban. Chelsea striker Diego Costa is joining in January when the ban expires, but they are likely to be out of the competition by then. Back to back draws against Azerbaijani minnows have left them well behind Roma and Chelsea in their group, as Atletico could only draw with Roma and lost to Chelsea.
However, the bad news for Zidane and Real Madrid is that Diego Simeone has once again made Atletico extremely difficult to beat. They may lack a bit of spark going forwards, but they are tough to break down and supremely disciplined and organised when it comes to the art of defending. That loss to Chelsea is the only defeat they have suffered all season. In La Liga, they have played 11, won six and drawn five. You have to go back to April for the last time a La Liga rival got the better of Simeone’s men, and they very rarely lose.
Most of the action is going on Real Madrid in this game and they are the 11/8 favourites with William Hill. Some are opting for the home win, which is 23/10 with Sportingbet, but very few bets are being placed on the draw. That outcome is 5/2 with 888 Sport and Unibet and that looks a fantastic option. The last time they met in the league was at the Bernebeu, when it finished 1-1, and the head-to-heads between the two sides are very even over the last five years. Under Simeone, Atletico have regularly gained strong results against Real and Barca and have not finished outside the top three for many years. They will seek to capitalise on Real’s recent struggles and they have more than enough talent within their side to get another positive result at the weekend. The frontrunner in the correct score betting is 1-1 at 6/1 with William Hill and that looks another good option.