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Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid Preview: Giants Clash in Copa del Rey Second Leg

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After their pride took a knock in their first-leg defeat, Copa del Rey holders Real Madrid look to overturn Atletico’s two goal lead to progress to the quarter-finals at home today at 1:55pm ET on beIN SPORTS and DishWorld (for viewers in the United States).

Last week’s defeat to their cross-town rivals marked a mini-slump for the European champions following their 22-game unbeaten run, but they regained their confidence by dispatching Espanyol 3-0 on Saturday, with goals coming from James Rodriguez, Gareth Bale and Nacho Fernandez.

Meanwhile Atletico were well beaten by a rampant Barcelona on Sunday 3-1, and as they slip further back in the title race, the Copa will become an ever-greater priority.

Real, too, desperately want to stay in the competition in order to build on their imposing 2014 trophy haul. Both sides are therefore expected to field full-strength teams.

Programming note: If you live in the United States, the game is being televised on beIN SPORTS and beIN SPORTS Español as well as being streamed live on DishWorld. If you don’t have a TV subscription to beIN SPORTS, you can watch Real Madrid versus Atletico Madrid live on DishWorld for just $10 per month. The service streams the beIN broadcast in HD to your computer, tablet or smartphone. And set-up just takes minutes. Read our review of DishWorld. And sign up for DishWorld via their website.

The first leg also saw the return on Atleti fan-favorite Fernando Torres, who could also start on Thursday. The move is hoped to rejuvenate the struggling Torres’ career, but having their wunderkind back has also invigorated Atletico’s fans.

Manager Diego Simeone, who played alongside Torres in his first stint at the Vicente Calderon Stadium, said last week that having the former Liverpool and Chelsea striker has “increased the sense of belonging” he’s trying to build at the club.

Certainly it would really kick off the Atletico love-in if Torres were to score at the Santiago Bernabeu to help his boyhood club edge past Los Blancos.

Another player to watch is Gareth Bale, who has come under fire recently for his perceived selfishness in front of goal.

The Welshman was booed by his home fans for going for glory against Espanyol, when the better option would have been to square the ball to Cristiano Ronaldo for a tap-in.

Despite manager Carlo Ancelotti publicly declaring that none of his players has a problem with selfishness, but it will nonetheless be interesting to see what Bale would do if presented with a similar chance to the one he spurned on Saturday.

Clearly determined to get back to the Copa del Rey final, where he scored arguably his most important goal in a Real shirt last season, Bale tweeted the following after the Espanyol victory.

Real certainly have their work cut out for them on Thursday – they’ll have to score at least twice against one of Europe’s meanest defenses to force extra time.

But they know all about snatching victory from the claws of defeat (see their last-gasp Champions League final victory against Atleti last season) and will be more than up for the fight.

It should all make for a gripping encounter in front of 80,000 screaming Real fans and millions of TV viewers worldwide.

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