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Atlético host Real Madrid in second consecutive Madrid Derby

Los Rojiblancos have a score to settle.

Real Madrid CF v Atletico Madrid - Super Copa de España Photo by Yasser Bakhsh/Getty Images

Atlético de Madrid and Supercopa de España winners Real Madrid will meet Thursday for the second time in eight days, as Los Colchoneros host Los Vikingos in a Copa del Rey round of 16 matchup.

Atlético Madrid have been able to rest a little longer than Real Madrid, which defeated FC Barcelona 4-1 in the Supercopa final on Sunday in Riyadh. Madrid reached the final after holding off Atlético in a thrilling 120-minute semifinal that saw eight goals scored — and Atleti are itching to set the record straight.

“Tomorrow is not a matter of whose legs are fresher, it depends more on who reacts faster mentally,” Diego Simeone told the media on Wednesday. “I hope we have the mental speed that the game requires.”

Thinking fast and defending well have to be the top action items on Simeone’s list. It’s scarcely believable that Atlético have shipped 10 goals in only three games this month, and El Cholo has attributed the issues to an inability to win important duels (such as Stefan Savić losing out to Joselu and turning a cross into his own net during extra time last week) and a lack of quality positioning or decision-making in front of Jan Oblak.

“We are playing a knockout tie in our home, we can play well, and as soon as we grow and get better, especially on my part, the team will improve a lot,” Simeone said.

Simeone is likely to make at least two changes to the 11 on Thursday. Nahuel Molina worked with the starters during Tuesday’s training session in Majadahonda and could replace Marcos Llorente in the lineup at right wing-back, while Axel Witsel is expected to displace Savić in the heart of defense after the Montenegrin struggled last Wednesday.

Saúl Ñíguez did not impress in Saudi Arabia, but he figures to start again in midfield as Pablo Barrios (who missed Monday and Tuesday’s sessions due to illness) continues to gain sharpness. Antoine Griezmann and Álvaro Morata will be the starting forward pair, although Memphis will be available after overcoming an adductor injury and Ángel Correa should be in the squad despite a robbery at his home last weekend.

Date Jan. 18, 2024

Location Estadio Cívitas Metropolitano, Madrid

Kickoff time 9:30 p.m. CET, 8:30 p.m. GMT, 3:30 p.m. ET, 12:30 p.m. PT

SB Nation opposition site Managing Madrid

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