The Hard Tackle lists three players who can make a positive impact when Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid face off on Sunday.
Sunday’s La Liga action brings us three enticing games, with all eyes fixed on the marquee fixture of the weekend. Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid will meet at the Santiago Bernabeu to round up the action on the day.
Real Madrid might not have envisioned such an exceptional campaign, where they have lost just twice thus far. Their only defeats have come in domestic competition, but the Merengues have already won one trophy, lifting the Spanish Super Cup. Meanwhile, Carlo Ancelotti’s men are sitting atop the table in La Liga, with a game in hand over second-placed Girona.
As for Atletico Madrid, the Colchoneros have not been at their best this season, only producing flashes of brilliance. While they topped their UEFA Champions League group, they are ten points behind their local rivals. But a trophy might be on the cards this term, with Diego Simeone’s men into the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey.
Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have already met thrice this season, with Los Rojiblancos winning two games. So, revenge will be on the mind of the home side, and with that in mind, The Hard Tackle picks three players who can singlehandedly tip the scales in their team’s favour this weekend.
Our list begins with Atletico Madrid’s biggest game-changer. He has often delivered the goods whenever his team has needed him the most. We are talking about Antoine Griezmann, the away side’s well-rounded talisman.
The French international was arguably the best player in La Liga last season and deserved to win the title. While he has not been at his best thus far this term, he still has an excellent record of 18 goals and seven assists in 32 appearances.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup winner has added more to his game with every season, especially during his second stint with Atletico Madrid. While he remains an extraordinary playmaker, he has become a prolific goalscorer. So, it is hardly surprising that clubs like Chelsea and Manchester United are interested.
Meanwhile, the 32-year-old will be focused on the task at hand on Sunday. He will be Atletico Madrid’s best bet to get anything out of the game. And if Griezmann rises to the occasion, there is no reason why Atletico Madrid cannot beat Real Madrid.
Our list ditches the offensive theme and moves into the midfield. But such has been this player’s tendency to deliver the goods in clutch situations that we cannot help but include him as our next pick. We are talking about Federico Valverde.
The Uruguayan international surprised everyone when he added prolific utility man to his job description last season. Valverde was here, there, and everywhere, with Ancelotti employing him in various roles.
He could play as a box-to-box midfielder, a holding midfielder, and an auxiliary winger. While he has reprised his primary role for the most part this season, the 25-year-old remains as dependable as ever. That is why he remains a target for high-profile clubs like Chelsea and Liverpool.
As for the matter at hand on Sunday, Valverde will have the onus on him to provide the forward thrust and bring Jude Bellingham into the picture. His robustness in the middle of the park will also trouble his Atletico Madrid counterparts. So, he might be the most important figure for Real Madrid this weekend.
We go back to an Atletico Madrid attacker to round up the list. We are finishing with a player who might not start on Sunday but will still be a pivotal figure for the away side as the minutes wear down at the Santiago Bernabeu. Memphis Depay is the player in question.
The Dutchman has blown hot and cold since joining Atletico Madrid from Barcelona 12 months ago. In addition, he has not been the undisputed first-choice attacker for Los Rojiblancos that he had hoped to be when he arrived in the capital.
But Depay has proven his worth with his cameos, raising the bar in his last two outings in La Liga. The 29-year-old has an excellent tally of seven goals and one assist in just 614 minutes of game time thus far this term.
Depay has earned Atletico Madrid six points in the last two games, finding the back of the net against Valencia before scoring the match-winning goal earlier this week against Rayo Vallecano. So, he might be the player to tip the scales as we get into the dying embers of Sunday’s top fixture.