Atletico Madrid will be looking to continue their quest for a first La Liga title triumph since 2014 when they host their neighbors Real Madrid in the Madrid derby this weekend.
Los Colchoneros are five points clear of both Real Madrid and Barcelona and have a game in hand over both powerhouses.
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Despite the advantage they hold at the top, Atletico had what looked like an insurmountable cushion at the top but February has not been kind to them, as they have dropped points in draws with Celta Vigo and a shocking home loss to Levante which allowed the chasing pack to close in on them.
A 1-0 Champions League defeat by Chelsea in Bucharest raised concerns about whether Diego Simeone’s side were choking under the weight of expectations.
They responded in style with a solid 2-0 win at Villarreal. Simeone will look to build on that textbook Atleti performance when they host the defending champions.
Real Madrid took full advantage of Atleti’s slips by rattling off four straight La Liga wins to exert more pressure on the league leaders. However, Monday’s 1-1 draw with Real Sociedad at Alfredo Di Stefano stadium appears to have slowed down their momentum.
They came out flat in the game and looked a step slower than they have been in their terrific streak. Portu put the visitors ahead on 55 minutes and they almost claimed a famous win before a late Vinicius Junior equalizer deep in added time spared Real’s blushes.
Zidane is hoping to get Karim Benzema back from injury for this contest which will be a massive boost for the defending champions.
This is a massive game in the context of the La Liga title race. Neither team will be willing to give the other an inch of space in this match. Being a derby, the extra element of competitiveness and chirpiness is certainly going to factor into this match. There’s no love lost between these neighbors and the fact that they are both locked in a do-or-die battle for the league means the atmosphere here is likely to be as toxic as it can get. We fancy the cards market and for our first betting tip here, we predict Over 4.5 bookings @ 1.76.
It has been incredibly close whenever these teams have locked horns in recent encounters. Three of their last four meetings have been level at halftime. The one exception here was their reverse meeting at the Bernabeu where Caseniro scored the only goal of the 1st half. Both teams have been quite solid defensively this season. We expect a cagey opening and we feel a halftime draw @ 2.02 could be worth a punt.
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