El Derbi Madrileno: Atletico can turn tide in Real Madrid clash

As if putting in its "weakest performance" in Diego Simeone's reign last weekend wasn't enough -- to use the coach's own words -- Atletico Madrid was also sucker-punched in the Champions League ahead of the Madrid derby on Sunday.

Lazio goalkeeper Ivan Provedel scored a 95th-minute equalizer to deny Atletico an impressive win in Rome on Tuesday which would have gone some way to raising the team's morale.

The visit of Real Madrid to the Metropolitano on Sunday catches Atletico at a low ebb, but it is the type of high-intensity clash which could cure the ills of the past week for Simeone and his team, kickstarting their campaign.

The fiery Argentine coach was aghast at the way Valencia strolled to a 3-0 win over his side last weekend in La Liga, leaving the Rojiblancos seventh.

Their bitter rivals are top of the league with five wins from five, maintaining a 100 percent record across all competitions this season after Jude Bellingham snatched them victory against Union Berlin on Wednesday in Europe.

However, Atletico forward Antoine Griezmann was happy with the team's display in the Champions League, despite the late set-back.

"We played a great match, but we still have good feelings, and can leave with our heads held high," said the French forward. "This is the image we want to portray -– everyone attacking, defending and forgetting Valencia. We have the level to achieve something big."

Taking even a point from the match against Real Madrid would be something to celebrate.

Carlo Ancelotti's side has not flowed in attack but is extremely durable and showed their typical never-say-die mindset in midweek.

Bellingham has instantly become the team's leading figure, after Karim Benzema's departure to Saudi Arabia, and has six goals in six games.

Atletico welcome Koke and Memphis Depay back after injury but still have various problems, with Pablo Barriosjoining Thomas Lemar and Reinildo Mandava on the sidelines, while Rodrigo de Paul and Caglar Soyuncu are doubts.

Real Madrid is hopeful Dani Carvajal will return after a minor leg problem, with Lucas Vazquez ready to play in his stead if not.

'Best moment.' Champions Barcelona, second, will look to move on top of the league before the Madrid derby when it hosts Celta Vigo on Saturday.

Xavi Hernandez's side have played brilliantly in their last two matches, scoring a total of 10 goals against Real Betis and Royal Antwerp.

The coach said they are playing better now than at any previous time since he took over in November 2021.

"We know inside the camp, that it's a question of consistency, of continuing with the same humility," said Xavi. "It's about continuing in this way, not relaxing, we're in the best moment since I've been coach and we have to continue on this road."


Friday Alaves vs. Athletic Bilbao
Saturday Girona vs. Real Mallorca, Osasuna vs. Sevilla, Barcelona vs.  Celta Vigo, Almeria vs. Valencia
Sunday Real Sociedad vs. Getafe, Rayo Vallecano vs. Villarreal, Real Betis vs. Cadiz, Las Palmas vs. Granada, Atletico Madrid vs. Real Madrid.


© Agence France-Presse

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