Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti is expected to rotate heavily as his team visits the Wanda Metropolitano for the latest installment of the Madrid Derby.
Atlético Madrid (18-7-9, 61 points) can take a sizable step toward clinching a place in next season’s Champions League with a win over the eternal rivals — who have absolutely nothing for which to play. Real Madrid (25-6-3, 81 points) took the league title back from Atlético last weekend and booked another Champions League final appearance in midweek after staging a bonkers rally against Manchester City.
“The reality is that we are at a decisive moment of the season, where there are four finals left,” Diego Simeone told the media on Saturday. “Tomorrow we will come out for the derby in the best way, with hope and enthusiasm. We will try to take the match to where we believe we can do damage, and we’ll try to avoid everything else that is being talked about around the game.”
Atlético have not beaten Real Madrid in any official competition since the dramatic UEFA Super Cup win in 2018, and a solitary Antoine Griezmann goal secured Atleti’s last league win over Los Blancos more than six years ago. An historic 4-0 shelling in 2015 stands as the last time that Los Rojiblancos won this fixture at their home stadium — at that time, the now-demolished Vicente Calderón.
“So many emotions have come from our games against Real Madrid — so many finals, (meetings in) the Champions League, Super Cups, Copas del Rey,” Simeone said. “They are a very strong opponent, we continue to see the strength they have today. It’s always exciting to face such an important opponent like Madrid, especially after they have become champions.”
Simeone received some good news Friday, when Spanish football’s much-maligned Refereeing Committee overturned the yellow card shown to Reinildo Mandava during last week’s deflating 2-0 loss at Athletic Club. Reinildo will now be available for el derbi and could start as the natural left-back in a defensive line of four.
Cholo’s expected midfield trio is Koke, Geoffrey Kondogbia, and Madrid academy graduate Marcos Llorente. The Argentine also looks ready to select Ángel Correa and Matheus Cunha alongside Yannick Carrasco for the forward line.
As for Madrid, Ancelotti on Saturday confirmed that backup goalkeeper Andriy Lunin would play in Thibaut Courtois’s place. Frequent substitutes such as Marco Asensio and Eduardo Camavinga seem likely to start the match, which will not be prefaced by Atlético giving the visitors a “pasillo” (or guard of honor) recognizing them as the new champions. Media controversy has swirled around this topic all week, especially after Atleti announced its intent to eschew the gesture.
“It’s obvious that these questions are geared toward drumming up a little controversy,” Simeone said. “What really happened is the club made a clear statement that explained our stance perfectly. We congratulate Real Madrid’s players and coaches because they have done great work. We offer respect to Madrid because they have just become champions, but we have much more respect for our fans, who support us and are with us.”
Date May 8, 2022
Location Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid
Kickoff time 9:00 p.m. CEST, 8:00 p.m. BST, 3:00 p.m. EST, 12:00 p.m. PST
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