Atletico Madrid will look to answer these five questions in el Derbi this weekend.
1. Is Antoine Griezmann fit to play?
There has been a lot of speculation on Griezmann's foot. Some thought it might be broken, but Atletico’s official Twitter account confirmed there was no such break. Another point of discussion is whether or not he will stay up with Kevin Gameiro most of the game or he will drop back to dictate play. You can almost bet on the latter, as in big games Diego Simeone likes to have his side defend a lot and then launch forward on the counter. With Griezmann supposedly dropping back, Atleti will likely do this and make Real Madrid suffer by giving them as little space as possible.
2. How much will Augusto Fernandez be missed?
Probably a lot. There is no doubt that Augusto was the centrepiece of Simeone’s impressive midfield, but Atletico have missed the Argentine’s presence and have struggled to replace him. Augusto was the one who provided mega defensive stability and this is something that Gabi and Koke just can not provide. Now, it will be very interesting to see how Cholo plays his cards in midfield and plans to stop Madrid’s dangerous attack.
3. Will Atleti concede yet again?
This is not something we are used to seeing. Atletico have conceded in each of the last four matches in all competitions - which is really un-Atleti like (well, in the Simeone Era). You can almost expect a Diego Godin and Stefan Savic partnership at the back, and these two world-class defenders will be more than eager to stop the Madrid attack, and one of the best keepers in the world in an Oblak will be more than determined to keep a much-needed clean sheet.
4. Who will play on the left of midfield?
Cholo has a huge decision to make here. Saul Niguez has played on the left lately where he has looked very lacklustre. Inconsistency is becoming a problem with Saul; in one game he looks like a world beater, in the next he looks really average. Nicolas Gaitan is fit to play, and maybe this is the time where he impresses in a big game for his new club. Gaitan started well against Malaga, but a little glute injury ruined his chances. However, this might be his time, his opportunity and if he gets this chance he will look to make the most of it.
5. Which manager will win the tactical battle?
Madrid are six points clear on the top, making this game a very, very important one for Simeone. Zidane got the better of him in May, although you could almost argue that it was due to luck. But Zidane is an ambitious coach, and a nine-point lead at the top of the table would be nearly impossible for Atletico to overcome. However, this time it will not be very straight-forward for him as his team is facing an injury crisis. While Karim Benzema, Luka Modric and Sergio Ramos look set to play, Pepe is almost certain not to play, Casemiro is a doubt and Mateo Kovacic’s status is unclear after he picked up an injury while on duty with Croatia. On the other hand, Cholo’s squad is healthier and he will be out to prove the critics wrong. Lately there has been some speculation on his future at Atleti but one thing is for sure: he desires revenge. We will have to wait and see if he gets it, though.