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Real Madrid-Atlético de Madrid: Copa del Rey semifinal berth in play

All set for the season’s second Madrid Derby.

Atletico de Madrid v Real Valladolid CF - LaLiga Santander
Koke will take part in his 30th Madrid Derby on Thursday.
Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

Atlético Madrid will make the short trip to the Santiago Bernabéu on Thursday night for a Copa del Rey quarterfinal with eternal rival Real Madrid.

The first Madrid Derby of 2023 might turn out to be Atlético’s most important game of the season, given the Colchoneros no longer have European football on which they can fall back. Atleti also sit 10-plus points behind both Madrid and FC Barcelona with not even half the season complete, so the Copa del Rey is the team’s only realistic shot at silverware.

“I’ve seen the team improve since the World Cup, with many more attacking possibilities to create danger,” Diego Simeone told the media on Wednesday. “Our group is enthusiastic and committed for an important game and a strong opponent.”

One of those attacking possibilities, the in-form Marcos Llorente, will miss Thursday night’s contest with a muscle injury and is not expected to return for a couple weeks. But Simeone should have all other players available, including recently-absent defender Stefan Savić and new signing Memphis (though only the former is expected to start).

Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti confirmed in his own pre-game presser that first-choice right-back Dani Carvajal will not be fit to play Thursday. The Spain international will join Aurélien Tchouaméni, Eden Hazard, and Lucas Vázquez on Ancelotti’s absent list with Madrid seeking a first Copa del Rey semifinal since 2019. Atlético’s semifinal drought stretches back to 2017.

“They have very important players, singling out just one (as the most dangerous) does the others a disservice,” Simeone said. “It’s a very competitive team. We’ll have to put all our enthusiasm and all our desire into the match.”

Athletic Club v Real Madrid CF - LaLiga Santander Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Real Madrid have demonstrated as much in recent meetings, the vast majority of which have ended in victories for Los Blancos — including the derby played at the Cívitas Metropolitano in September, which ended in a bitter 2-1 defeat for Atlético.

Madrid have won five and drawn three of the 10 derbies played since Atleti won the European Super Cup in Estonia over four years ago. The Rojiblancos have only ever won twice (from 21 attempts) at the Bernabéu in the Copa del Rey — but one of those wins was the 2013 Copa del Rey final, which remains Atlético’s last triumph in this competition.

That match was also one of several recent knockout ties that required extra time between Atleti and Real Madrid. In the past 10 years, these teams have needed an additional half hour to settle two Champions League finals, a European Super Cup, and a Supercopa de España final as well. Two of those contests even went to penalties.

Date Jan. 26, 2023

Location Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid

Kickoff time 9:00 p.m. CET, 8:00 p.m. GMT, 3:00 p.m. EST, 12:00 p.m. PST

SB Nation opposition site Managing Madrid

Available TV/streaming ESPN+ (United States), La 1 (Spain)