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Back under 2.5 goals (-110)
Atletico Madrid have struggled for goals in recent contests, while Real Madrid could be tired after their exertions in the Champions League.
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Wednesday was another magnificent European night for Real Madrid. It has been a season of comebacks for Carlo Ancelotti’s side in the Champions League, with dramatic turnarounds against Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16 and Chelsea in the quarter-finals.
Neither of those occasions could match Wednesday’s clash for drama, though. Trailing 5-3 on aggregate to Manchester City after 179 minutes of a 180-minute tie, Madrid somehow scored twice to force extra time and then grabbed the winner early on in the additional half an hour of play.
This is a team that, in the Champions League at least, is never dead and buried. Madrid feel like it is their destiny to win the competition, which they have done a record 13 times before. Given that they have already wrapped up the La Liga title – their lead at the summit of the standings is 15 points with only 12 left to play for – Madrid have the advantage of being able to start their preparations for the final immediately. Liverpool, still locked in a Premier League title tussle with Manchester City, have no such luxury.
That is not to say Madrid would be happy for their domestic campaign to tail off. They could still reach 93 points, which would be their joint-highest tally since Jose Mourinho’s side hit treble figures a decade ago. And Ancelotti will certainly not want his team to lose momentum ahead of their biggest game of the season.
The nature of the Madrid derby means los Blancos will be focused on the task at hand this weekend. Local bragging rights are at stake and Madrid could deal their rivals a major blow in their bid for Champions League qualification. The title race might be over but there is still plenty to play for in La Liga in the final few weeks of the campaign.
Atletico Madrid were only narrowly defeated by Manchester City in the last eight of the Champions League. They arguably deserved more than a 0-0 draw in the second leg of that tie, as Diego Simeone’s side dominated the team that many still hold up as the best in Europe. Curiously, that display against Pep Guardiola’s men was a rare bright spot for Atletico in recent weeks.
The Colchoneros head into the derby in poor form domestically. They have won only one of their last four fixtures in the Spanish top flight and failed to score in three of them. A 2-0 defeat by Athletic Bilbao last time out leaving Simeone’s side in a precarious position in the fight for a place in the La Liga top four. Their lead over Real Betis stands at just three points, while Atletico still have to play Madrid, Sevilla and Real Sociedad.
There have been problems at both ends of the field. Atletico, long famed for the solidity of their backline, have conceded 41 goals in 34 games this term – only the 11th best record in the division. They have not scored enough to compensate for that increased leakiness: a return of 59 goals is second only to Madrid and Barcelona, but both those teams have also conceded fewer than Atletico.
The derby has tended to go Madrid’s way in recent years. The last 12 editions in La Liga have not produced a single Atletico victory, with their arch-rivals triumphing on five occasions. Madrid had too much quality for Simeone’s side earlier this season, running out 2-0 winners in front of a delighted home crowd at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
Another notable feature of recent contests between these two teams is how few goals there have been. Only two of the last 12 league derbies have featured three or more. These tend to be cagey, low-scoring affairs – and there is no reason to expect anything different when the capital’s two biggest clubs renew hostilities this weekend.
For one, Atletico have a lot to lose in the final weeks of the campaign. Simeone will have made sure his players appreciate the importance of keeping things tight at the back and avoiding unnecessary errors, particularly as his side have not exactly been free-scoring of late.
Wednesday’s exhilarating victory over Manchester City will have taken plenty out of Madrid, both mentally and physically. The fact the title race is already over could lead to a relatively subdued performance from Ancelotti’s side. Back under 2.5 goals in this one.
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|Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid Information|
|Teams||Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid|
|Location||Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain|
|Time||Sunday, 8 May 2022, 3.00 PM EDT|
|How to watch||ESPN+|
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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