Real Madrid can tighten their stranglehold at the top of La Liga on Saturday, when they welcome city rivals Atletico Madrid to the Santiago Bernabeu.
A 4-2 win over Leganes on Wednesday for Zinedine Zidane’s men keeps them two points clear of Barcelona having played a game less than their bitter enemies. With just nine games to play for Los Blancos, it’s looking increasingly unlikely that they’ll slip up in pursuit of the title.
If they are going to surrender their strong position, Atletico need to turn in a big performance here. While it’s too late for Diego Simeone’s side to force their way back into the reckoning for the crown, they’re in sensational form heading into this one, winning their last five in succession to overtake Sevilla in third place.
Although both sides have UEFA Champions League commitments in the coming days, there’ll be no dwindling focus when they walk out at the Santiago Bernabeu; with the potential for another Champions League meeting between the two sides further down the line, there’s a chance to gain an edge in what’s become a fascinating rivalry.
Indeed, although Real Madrid have got the better of their rivals in recent finals and in the previous meeting at the Vicente Calderon, in La Liga Atletico have won on their last three visits to the Bernabeu. If Zidane’s men can put an end to that run, then the title is surely theirs.
With third place looking secure, Atletico can approach this one without pressure. That’ll make for a fascinating afternoon in the Spanish capital.
Where to watch the game on US TV and streaming
On the cusp of a defining spell in Real’s season, Zidane took the opportunity to rest some key players on Wednesday night against Leganes. Those who came in delivered.
Alvaro Morata made his case for a starting berth with a hat-trick, while the prodigious Marco Asensio dazzled with some wonderful dribbling and incisive passing. It was another win at a potentially testing venue and another crucial step towards their first league title since 2012.
Crucially, Zidane will be able to call upon some fresh legs on Saturday, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale not needed in midweek. It’s a measure of the depth Real have at their disposal and at the end of what has been a draining campaign, that extra energy those men possess could prove to be crucial.