Real Madrid have been close to sealing the La Liga title for months now. With a 17-point lead over the second-placed team, it is only a matter of time before the title is confirmed. There is, however, an interesting twist to the tale.
Suppose Sevilla and Barcelona drop points in their games tonight, a win over Espanyol at the Bernabeu will secure the La Liga title for Real Madrid.
It would also open the doors for a guard of honour from Atletico Madrid, for Carlo Ancelotti’s side face Los Rojiblancos in their next league game. As derby rivals, it would be an incredible moment for Madrid.
Not to mention, it could open the doors to an incredibly contested game, for the gesture is bound to be taken harshly by Diego Simeone and co.
Real Madrid have been unstoppable domestically this season. In 33 games, they have lost only thrice and drawn six.
In their 24 wins, they have scored 69 goals while conceding less than 30 goals. Moreover, they have maintained a clean sheet on 13 occasions.
The league leaders currently sit on 78 points, with second-placed Atletico Madrid on 61.
Arch-rivals Barcelona are third with 60 points, though they have two games in hand over the Madrid based sides. This will surely go down as one of the club’s most dominant league seasons in history.
With the league sealed, all attention now turns to the Champions League. Carlo Ancelotti’s men face Manchester City in the semifinals of the prestigious competition, and the first leg is scheduled at the Santiago Bernabeu for next week.
Given that domestic results no longer play a decisive role, the manager and players can give their all to the UCL. Needless to say, it is a big relief.
Atletico Madrid midfielder on the derby against Real Madrid: “Very difficult to beat them”
Following a 1-1 draw in their Champions League opener against Lazio, Atletico Madrid will shift all their attention to La Liga, as they brace themselves for the derby against Real Madrid this weekend.
Heading into this game, Atleti midfielder Marcos Llorente spoke about Real Madrid’s quality and Atletico Madrid’s chances of squeezing all three points from this iconic derby.
Llorente on Madrid derby
“The sensations are good. The team is very good, the other day we played a great game despite ending up drawing. I really think that the team did a great job that must be maintained for this match,” Llorente said in an interview with Diario AS.
When asked whether or not Real Madrid being tagged as favourites could aid Atleti, the midfielder said, “Honestly, it neither motivates me nor demotivates me. We simply have to do what we work on during the week, what the coach asks of us.”
Llorente stressed the importance of the game, adding, “It is a great rival we have in front of us, they are having a very good start to the season and that motivates me and everyone to try to play a good game.”
“Real Madrid is a great club, they have great players and it is very difficult to beat them. I think we have competed, we have also achieved several draws, but in the end, either you go out one hundred percent and do things very, very well or it is difficult to beat them,” he added.
A former member of the Real Madrid youth academy, Llorente joined Atletico Madrid in 2019. Since then, he has racked up over 150 competitive appearances for Los Colchoneros.
Llorente, though, said he feels no sense of vindication when he performs well against his former team.
“No. In the end, it’s been many years since I left there and I’m at Atlético. Perhaps in the first years, those types of feelings and sensations can arise, but today they no longer do,” he said.
Llorente on Vinicius, Koke & Bellingham
The Atletico Madrid star went on to talk about other aspects of the game, including the fact that his team had one less player every time they faced Real Madrid last season.
“I have zero worries. These are things that are not in our remit, that escape our hands. We play football, the referees referee and those who have to decide decide,” he said.
Llorente, in fact, said that the return of Koke could be a real boost for Atleti. “It is always good that Koke is with us, both on the field and in the day-to-day life of the game,” he said.
“Beyond the grass. The support he gives, the advice he gives us, his experience. it is always important to have him and it is great news that he is already training with us,” he added.
Talking about the absence of Vinicius Junior and the form of Jude Bellingham, Llorente said, “Well, you have to be careful with everyone. All Real Madrid players are very good and can make a difference at any moment of the game. Bellingham is having a great start and we have to take that into account and be very focused.”
Finally, Marcos Llorente put out a message for all the Atletico Madrid fans, claiming their support ahead of this crucial encounter this weekend.
“It will be a full house as always. We don’t have to tell them anything, they know the importance of this match for Atlético, we know that they never fail, they are always supporting us and we count on them,” he said.