Spain

Predicted XIs: Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid forced to improvise with key absences

Real Madrid will cross the city of Madrid this evening to take on bitter rivals Atletico in what is shaping up to be a fascinating clash.

Los Blancos have won every game so far this season, casting Diego Simeone’s men in their preferred underdog role. One levelling factor will be the absence of Karim Benzema, whom Carlo Ancelotti confirmed yesterday would be ruled out along with Lucas Vazquez. Eder Militao has recovered from his fitness issues though.

Simeone does have his own selection headaches to contend with though. Yesterday he confirmed that key central defenders from Jose Maria Gimenez and Stefan Savic would miss out. Sergio Reguilon continues to be absent and they are without Thomas Lemar too. On the positive side, Jan Oblak will be back.

Diario AS predict that Ancelotti will try to fill the absence of Benzema with Rodrygo Goes, as he did against Leipzig.

For Atleti, they believe Felipe will retain his place alongside Axel Witsel and Reinildo Mandava in defence. Saul will come in for Mario Hermoso and perhaps the most surprising selection would be that of Angel Correa in midfield. Marca have the exact same line-up predicted, but with Matheus Cunha ahead of Alvaro Morata.

The interesting shift in the derby is that it allows Atleti to defend deeper and takes the onus off them to attack. Equally, they cannot rely on the same defensive solidity they have had in the past.