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Three talking points ahead of Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid | La Liga

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Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images

Six games, six wins. The story for Real Madrid at the start of the new season could not be sweeter, or so it appears.

However, that could not be further away from the truth. Los Blancos have been lacklustre in most of their wins, finding resources only in the dying minutes of games to take home three points. 

While the fighting spirit is a positive, making a habit of taking games deep certainly is not.

After their nervy win over Union Berlin in the Champions League, Real Madrid face their biggest challenge of the season so far – Atletico Madrid. The game against Diego Simeone’s side kicks off late on Sunday night and could prove to be decisive on the leaderboard.

Carlo Ancelotti and Simeone have enjoyed a hard-fought rivalry over the years as managers with shares almost equally split. 

Heading into tonight’s game, the Italian boasts of a mild edge over the Argentine with eight wins in head-to-heads compared to Simeone’s seven. 

The head-to-head statistics between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid are more skewed, however, with Los Rojiblancos winning just four times to Real Madrid’s nine of the last 20.

Madrid Universal brings you three talking points from Atletico Madrid vs. Real Madrid.

The evergreen derby

Derbies are often the most tasty fixtures in the world of football. Of them, the Madrid derby is one that never loses spice.

Los Blancos and Los Rojiblancos have not seen eye to eye in recent years. While they have maintained diplomatic relationships to display on the fore, there is a whole lot more going on behind the scenes between the Spanish giants.

Earlier this year, the Galacticos broke the non-aggression pact with Atleti and openly began scouting and signing players from the Rojiblanco youth camp. That has only added to the existing friction between the two clubs.

Sunday’s derby will thus be an interesting one. After all, both teams have had contrasting starts to their seasons and are equally hungry for the big game.

The clash at Civitas Metropolitano will not be easy by any means.

In their last 14 appearances at the Atletico Madrid stadium, Los Blancos have lost five times, drawn six times and won just thrice. However, they did win at the stadium last season.

Expect no dearth of passion, quality football and tactical manoeuvres when the local rivals lock horns on Sunday.

The two doubts

Two of Real Madrid’s most important stars were potentially at the risk of missing the game against Atletico Madrid, albeit to different extents.

Vinicius Jr has missed Real Madrid’s last three games through injury. The Brazilian was expected to miss eight after the initial blow and a return against Atletico Madrid seemed impossible.

Magically, Vini shortened his recovery time to just half of that initially reported. Carlo Ancelotti revealed in his pre-game press conference that the Brazilian is now 100% fit and that he would travel with the squad. 

The only question that remains is whether he starts or is rested out of precaution.

Jude Bellingham, meanwhile, has been the team’s most important player this season. Without him, Real Madrid would have lost 11 points so far.

The new signing was immense once again in the team’s UEFA Champions League fixture midweek, scoring a late winner for his side. Unfortunately, he suffered a stomach bug on Friday and was forced to leave training early.

The star men. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO/AFP via Getty Images)

The Italian tactician confirmed in his presser that Bellingham will play tomorrow. Just like in the case of Vini, the doubt is whether his participation will be as a starter or off the bench.

Need for finesse

There was really only one big takeaway from Real Madrid’s 1-0 win over Union Berlin in the UEFA Champions League – the atrocious finishing.

Los Blancos took 32 shots on the night, seven of which were on target. They recorded five big chances, missing four of them and hitting the woodwork twice.

Against a defensively resilient unit like Atletico Madrid, such slack finishing will not suffice. Ancelotti’s men must pounce on the few chances they create, especially considering that they will be hard to come by.

All eyes, thus, will be on Joselu and Rodrygo Goes. The duo both had rough nights against Union Berlin and will look to turn their fortunes around with a clinical show tomorrow.

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Features

Euro 2024: Rating every Real Madrid player’s performance at the tournament

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Photo by INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images

The UEFA Euro 2024 came to an end last night with Spain being crowned the champions of Europe thanks to a 2-1 victory over England in Berlin.

Considering how well La Roja played throughout the tournament and their performance in the finals on Sunday night, they were the deserved winners of the trophy.

With Spain lifting the trophy, Real Madrid veteran defender Dani Carvajal added another title to his already successful campaign finishing 2023/24 as a La Liga, Champions League, and EURO winner.

Nacho and Joselu, who were still contracted with Real Madrid when the Euro started, joined Carvajal on that list while Jude Bellingham finished on the losing side.

Real Madrid had a total of 13 players representing them at the Euros in Germany and not all managed to make a solid impression. Here are how the Merengues’ stars fared at the European Championships.

Spain

Dani Carvajal: 8/10

The Spanish right-back was one of the stars of the show at the Euros, playing an integral role in La Roja’s success. Carvajal kicked off his first Euro with a goal in the opening game against Croatia and continued to be a reliable player for Spain both in defence and attack.

Carvajal forged a strong partnership with Barcelona’s Lamine Yamal on the right flank and even played a key role in the team’s opening goal against England in the final.

Nacho: 6/10

Technically no longer a Real Madrid player, Nacho was still contracted with the club when the Euros kicked off. Starting in the opener against Croatia, he helped Spain to a clean sheet against Croatia.

The veteran defender also put in solid shifts in the quarter-final and semi-final ties against Germany and France, respectively and helped see out the game against England last night.

Joselu: N/A

Behind the likes of Alvaro Morata and Mikel Oyarzabal in the pecking order, Joselu, who left Real Madrid at the end of June, played just 90 minutes across two games.

England

Jude Bellingham: 6.5/10

Failed to deliver. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Having enjoyed a dream season with Real Madrid, Jude Bellingham was unable to replicate those performances for England.

While he did score two crucial goals, including a stunning bicycle kick to keep his team alive against Slovakia, and assisted Cole Palmer’s strike in the finals, his overall display left a lot to be desired.

France

Kylian Mbappe: 6/10

Real Madrid’s newest acquisition, all eyes were on Mbappe heading into the Euros. And even though France made it as far as the semi-finals, the 25-year-old failed to live up to the expectations with a nose injury impacting his displays.

Mbappe finished the tournament with a solitary goal and two assists, but as he admitted after the defeat to Spain, his Euro will go down as a failure.

Aurelien Tchouameni: 6/10

Making a return from injury during the tournament, the Real Madrid midfielder was a solid presence in the centre of the park for France alongside N’Golo Kante without really standing out a great deal.

The 24-year-old provided strength and stability in midfield for Les Bleus and even tried to get upfield in matches. But his shooting from distance was way off the mark.

Not up to the mark. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Eduardo Camavinga: 5/10

Starting just one of France’s six games and featuring as a substitute in three more, Eduardo Camavinga was not a major presence for Didier Deschamps’ side at the Euros which came as a surprise.

The Real Madrid starlet did show glimpses of quality when he did get a chance but not enough for him to make an impact.

Ferland Mendy: N/A

Having made a return to the France setup for the first time since 2022, Mendy did not play a single minute at the Euros, with former Real Madrid left-back, Theo Hernandez being preferred by the manager.

Germany

Antonio Rudiger: 7/10

Carrying on from where he left off for Real Madrid, Rudiger was a solid presence at the heart of the German defence at the Euros in his homeland.

Came up against some tricky forwards throughout the hosts’ quarterfinal run but did well to hold his own, but was guilty of losing Mikel Merino for Spain’s goal that eliminated Germany.

Toni Kroos: 6.5/10

It was not a fairytale ending for Kroos, who waved goodbye to his international career with a forgettable display against Spain during which he could have been easily sent off for the array of fouls he committed.

Prior to that, however, Kroos was instrumental for Germany in their run until the quarterfinals, stringing play together from the centre of the park.

Turkey

Arda Guler: 7/10

Arda Guler made a good impression at the Euros. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

One of the breakout stars of the Euros, Arda Guler showcased his talent and potential, helping Turkey to the quarterfinals of the tournament.

The 19-year-old started off with a wonder-goal against Georgia and also added two assists to his tally in his first major tournament, following in the footsteps of greats like Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney. A bright future awaits.

Croatia

Luka Modric: 6/10

Unlike recent years, Luka Modric’s Croatia were unable to get past the group stages, with the veteran midfielder finishing the tournament with a goal from under 240 minutes.

Ukraine

Andriy Lunin: 2/10

Started the tournament as Ukraine’s No. 1 against Romania but made costly errors that saw him lose his place in the starting XI. Did not feature again after the opener as his team crashed out of the group stages.

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